Here are some great, fun Auction history facts from the National Auctioneers Association’s website:

  • The word “auction” derives from the Latin word “auctus,” which means “increasing.”
  • Rome was the first nation to license auctioneers.
  • Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius sold family furniture at auction to satisfy debts.
  • The “Magister Auctionarium” drove a spear into the ground to start the auction. Today, auctioneers use gavels many times throughout an auction.
  • Founded in 1674 by Baron Claes Rålamb, Stockholms Auktionsverk is the oldest auction house still in business.
  • Candles were used in the 1700s at auctions to declare the winner. If you were the high bidder at the time when the candle extinguished itself, you won the auction.
  • In the mid-1700s, auctions were commonly held in taverns. Elaborate and detailed catalogs for works of art were considered art themselves.
  • America’s first president, George Washington, was an avid auction buyer.
  • Jones’ National School of Auctioneering and Oratory was the first American auction school and was established in Davenport, Iowa, in 1906.