A bit of history...
Auctions are one of the oldest recorded methods of buying and selling goods. Before prices could be easily standardised (using technologies such as the printing press, and now the internet), auctions were one of the most trusted ways for both buyers and sellers to ensure they were getting a fair price. The earliest recorded mention of an auction is from 500 BCE, when Herodotus recounted how the Babylonians used auctions to sell women for marriage. Auctions for physical goods became popular in Ancient Greece (and were later adopted by the Romans), both for private sales in the same manner as modern auctions, and as a means of raising money for the government, especially to fund wars. Auctions were the favoured method of distributing the spoils of war, often including valuable artworks and sculptures.
In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder records how King Attalus of Pergamon paid one hundred talents (probably close to £1,000,000 in modern money) for a single work by the famous Greek painter Aristides.
Through the Middle Ages, auctions fell out of favour, perhaps largely because the loss of a formal artistic canon meant there were fewer items of high value that needed to be sold. Nevertheless, they experienced a resurgence in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, particularly in England. The 'auction by candle' was a particularly novel style of auction, where a small candle was burned every time a lot was being sold - the sale of the lot, equivalent to the fall of the gavel nowadays, was signalled by the going out of the candle! In the 21st century, auctions are now an invaluable part of the economy, facilitating the sale not only of fine art and valuables, but of property, land, vehicles, livestock, commodities, even private and government contracts.
Why Duggleby Stephenson?
Duggleby Stephenson is one of the leading auction houses in North Yorkshire, with 25 years' experience selling items of all kinds, including fine art, jewellery, antiques & collectables, vehicles, property, commercial items, and more. We have the ability to arrange auctions of any size, from single items through to entire house or business contents, private collections, and motor vehicles. In the global, online, and interconnected world in which we now live, auctions have become one of the greatest mediums for items to be sold to an international market, with auction houses now on every continent except Antarctica.
Buying at auction ensures that you will always pay a fair price, without the large markup found in retail. Auctions also provide a unique experience, for there is nothing quite like the thrill of bidding in an auction, be it in the room or online.
Furthermore, auctions provide the ability to access unique items that can’t be purchased in a retail environment. Items such as paintings or jewellery that have been in a private collection for years or even generations often come up for sale for the first time at auction, and may not be for sale again for many years to come.