History

The history of auctions is unclear. They date back for centuries and nobody really nows when or where the first auction took place. Some of the first records of auctions date back to 500 BC in Ancient Greece, where men would auction of their daughters as wives. The type of bidding used then seems to be the opposite of what we know now. The highest price for the item would be named, and then the price would continually decrease until people started bidding. The item would then go to the first bidder.

Auctions continued throughout Europe during the time of the Roman Empire. The most common items that were auctioned were family estates and items obtained in war. Some of the traditions from the Roman auctions can still be seen in our auctions today. For example, the auction gavel we use to signify the start of the auction is a replacement for a roman spear that used to be driven into the ground.

Auctions were brought to America from Europe in the 1600s with the arrival of the pilgrims on the Mayflower. It continued to be practiced by colonists in order to sell and obtain farming equipment.

In America, auctions continued into the Civil War period, where they became increasingly popular. Colonels who obtained land in war raids would hold their own auctions to receive money for these estates and other forms of plunder. This is why the auction leader today is often referred to as the “colonel”.

One wonders what the earlier settlers would make of all the different types of auctions that are held in the 21st century. In additional to commodities auctions, antique, wine, and real estate auctions, livestock, thoroughbred horses and other livestock auctions, debt auctions and auto actions, among many other types, there are also auctions, both online and at events used to raise money for all sorts of charities and events.

My daughter’s high school in conjunction with an online jewelry store held a private fund raising auction centered around their sterling silver jewelry and their cubic zirconia rings online. People signed into a special page online, perused the available jewelry to be auctioned and then placed their offers. I was impressed by the variety of the jewelry offered, especially the cubic zirconia rings with sterling silver. Knowing the gemstones were cubic zirconia, a synthetic gemstone with properties that made them look like diamonds, didn’t deter from their dazzling designs. However, I knew the prices of such rings were much more moderate than if the rings had actual diamonds in the settings. Just like in ebay auctions, participants could see bids come in online and then raise their bids accordingly. It was a fun fund raising event that brought in a significant amount of money for the school.

Gift baskets also make for effective auction items since they can contain a wonderful variety of items grouped together in a great display making it easier to auction off. To maximize interest in GiftTree personalized gifts that re being presented at an auction, create a theme. You can also plan on having the gift baskets delivered to the bidders home as an extra perk if they reside nearby.

An alternative to a live auction are gift basket silent auctions that can raise much needed funds and be very entertaining particularly for schools or non profit organizations. The gift baskets for an auctions can be extravagant affairs with fine wines, champagne, caviar, along with gourmet food stuffs, goblets, and other wine accessories such as foil cutter, VIP lever-style wine opener, replacement corkscrew, and wine opener stand. On a humbler note, gift baskets for a school auction could filled with all sorts of school supplies, along with reading books, puzzles, and games. Asking local merchants to donate gift certificates is a long standing practice for school fund raisers. Adding additional items such as lotions, candles, bath salts, CD with relaxing music etc to fill out a gift basket that has a gift certificate to a spa or massage therapist lifts the over all value above each individual item’s perceived value and makes for a much more visually pleasing auction item.

Auctions have been used for cultural, social, and economic reasons for centuries. It is still used in many sectors of our economy, the fastest areas of growth are now in agricultural, machinery, and equipment auctions as well as residential real estate auctions. Auctions can be open to the public or held privately. It seems that almost anything can be sold at auction.

Take a look at what Rosehill Auction Gallery is offering today.