History: Continued

Popular in some parts of England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, auction by candle was the preferred method for the sale of goods and leaseholds. The auction began with the lighting of a candle at which point bidding began. The process continued until the candle finally extinguished itself. The highest bid secured at this point won the auction. It was used from about 1490 to 1893 and is sometimes used even today in ceremonial events. After 1674, it was gradually replaced by the English auction. Both types of auction are ascending open auctions.

The Stockholm Auction House was established in 1674 in Sweden and is widely regarded as the world’s oldest auction house.

Shortly after the end of the French Revolution in 1799, auctions came to be held in taverns, now referred to as public houses, and coffee houses, similar to a café, with the purpose of selling art. These types of auctions were held on a daily basis, and catalogues were printed to make known the items that were available for sale. Such catalogues were normally printed and distributed before auctions of rare or collectible items, such as art, jewellery, postage stamps, and antique furniture. In some cases these catalogs were elaborate works of art themselves, since they frequently included detailed descriptions of the items, their origin, historical significance, photographs, etc.

The world's second-largest and third oldest auction house in continuous operation is Sotheby's. It held its first auction in 1744. In fact, the oldest auction house is Stockholm’s Auktionsverk, founded in 1674, whilst the second oldest is the Uppsala Auktionskammare, founded in 1731.

The world's largest auction house is Christie's, which specialises in fine art. The official company documents states that the founder, James Christie, conducted the first sale in London on 5 December 1766.

There is intense rivalry between the two eminent houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, for the status of the world's most pre-eminent fine art auctioneer.

Other early auction houses of significance that are still conducting business include:

The Dorotheum, which was established in 1707, is one of the world's oldest auction houses. Based in Vienna, it specialises in furniture, porcelain, and jewellery from various centuries.

Bonhams is a privately owned British auction house, with its first sale conducted in 1793. After Sotheby's and Christie's, it is the third largest auctioneer. Records show that it conducts around 700 auctions each year.

Phillips, de Pury & Company is an auction house and art dealership which specialises in the areas of Contemporary Art, Photography, 20-21st Century Design, Art and Jewellery. The company was first established as the auction house of Phillips, created in London by the young entrepreneur Harry Phillips. He opened his own auction house, in 1796, after leaving his position as senior clerk to James Christie, of Christie’s

Lyon & Turnbull is privately owned, and an auction house of international repute. Based in Scotland, it was established in 1826. As Scotland’s oldest auction house, it also holds the position as the largest independent auctioneer in the United Kingdom, outside of London. It also has the enviable status as the fastest growing auction house in the UK.

Auctions – How To Succeed

Author's Bio: 

Peter Radford writes Articles with Websites on a wide range of subjects. Auction Articles cover Background, History, Types, Uses, Bidding.

His Website contains a total of 144 Auction Articles, written by others and carefully selected.

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