Records handed down from ancient Greek scribes document auctions occurringas far back as 500 B.C. At that time, women were auctioned off as wives. And, in fact, it was considered illegal to allow a daughter to be “sold” outside the auction method.A “descending” method was used for these auctions, starting with a high price and going lower until the first person to bid was the purchaser, as long as the minimum price set by the seller was met. The buyer could get a return of money if he and his new spouse did not get along well, but unlike a horse, maidens could not be “tried” before auction.
Women with special beauty were subject to the most vigorous bidding and theprices paid were high. Owners of the less attractive women had to add dowries or other monetary offers in order to make the sale.
In Rome, Italy, around the time of Christ, auctions were popular for family estates and to sell war plunder. Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius sold family furniture at auctions, for months, to satisfy debts.
Roman soldiers sold war plunder at auction. The licensed auctioneer, called “Magister Auctionarium,” drove a spear into the ground to start the auction. Today we use an auction gavel.
AUCTION COME TO AMERICA
American auctions date back to the Pilgrims’ arrival on America’s Eastern
Shores in the 1600s and continued in popularity during colonization with the sale of crops, imports, clapboard, livestock, tools, tobacco, slaves and even entire farms. Selling at auction was the fastest and most efficient means to convert assets into cash.Fur was especially big during this time. In his book, “Going, Going, Gone!,” Bellamy Partridge says “the Bible and the beaver were the mainstays of the Pilgrims, the Good Book saving their souls and the beaver paying their bills.”Initially, the furs were collected from Native Americans in the fall and winter,utilizing the “private treaty” method of exchange for “wampum” (the Native American
word which meant money). The raw pelts (or hides) were transported to the closest shipping port. In the spring of each year, the auction method was used to sell the raw
THE 1990’S THROUGH TODAY
the 1990s, technology was finding its way into the auction business. Auctioneerswere using computers, fax machines, cell phones and other technology to make their businesses run faster and more smoothly. Some auctioneers began taking photographs of small auction items and projecting them onto big screens so the crowds could get a closer look at the merchandise.Auctions burst into cyberspace in the middle of the decade. The ever flourishing eBay was launched in 1995 and would
go on to become an “online leader” in the bidding business.Many auctioneers today offer both live and online auctions to meet the needs of customers near and far. Technology allows buyers to participate in the sale without even being there.
THE FUTURE OF AUCTIONEERING
Over the years auctioneering has progressed and changed, and today it remains more popular than ever. Most everything thinkable has been sold by the auction method of marketing: antiques, household items, automobiles, land, livestock,homes, designer dresses, business equipment, and more. And thanks to professional organizations like the National Auctioneers Association, auctioneers are privy to countless educational opportunities that help them to keep up on the latest
Auctioneers today are working to earn specialty designations such as GraduatePersonal Property Appraiser (GPPA) , Accredited Auctioneer Real Estate (AARE),Certified Auctioneers Institute (CAI) and Certified Estate Specialist (CES). (Tell about any designations you have or classes you have taken.) NAA auctioneers are also bound by a code of ethics that protects consumers against fraud and unfair business practices.Auctions have been around since the beginning of time because they are a highly efficient and effective business tool and they meet the needs of the Nobody doubts the values brought when Cher’s private home is sold at auction, or questions the method when the home of former U.S. presidential candidate,
Senator John McCain’s is sold by an auctioneer. Nobody critiqued the prices
attained when Michael Jackson’s personal affects were sold at auction. Nobody challenges the value of their shares in Wal-Mart at the end of the day on Wall Street. However, mention selling everyday real estate, commercial assets and other assets via the competitive bidding of an auction and doubt and uncertainty immediately follows.
The auction method of marketing is the world’s oldest and most misunderstood method of selling assets. The process is straight forward, but perception clouds reality many times. An auction is simply a marketplace where assets or goods are sold via competitive bidding with the highest bid winning the rights to own. Auctions are the purest and quickest form of price discovery. At an auction, the marketplace (consumers), tell you how much they believe an asset is worth and how much they are willing to pay through incremental bidding. No more. No less. Yes, auctions are used to dispose of distressed assets, but people fail to recognize or admit that
these assets are sold via auction because other options have not met the needs of Auctioneers are problem solvers, not just fast talkers. Auctioneers take pride in helping their clients find solutions. Auctioneers are strategic asset disposition experts. At the mere mention of auction, people hear the rhythmic cadence of an auctioneer’s trademark bid call. Contrary to public perception, talking fast isn’t our specialty. Professional auctioneers are marketing specialists who use product knowledge, technology and advanced advertising to promote the assets they are charged with selling. Experts in the psychology of selling, auctioneers have the tools and knowledge needed to create a portal for buyers and sellers to connect. The
public perception of auctioneers is that “all they do is talk fast”, but the reality is that the auctioneer spends one percent of their time captivating their audience with their famous chant and 99 percent of their time marketing, building, managing No other form of commerce or sales method today leaves customers walking away delighted that they’ve won something they have wanted. You didn’t win that sweater or compete for that flat screen TV at the department store. You paid for it. Only at an auction will you walk away invigorated and excited that you “won” the item for which you were searching. How you actually paid for it is of little significance because at the end of the day you won the battle and that newfound
treasure is yours.