With such variety in the types of buyers and sellers coming to the market and advances in digital technology, the traditional property auction has come a long way in the last few years alone. At Auction House Sussex, our experienced team has been conducting auctions since 1985 and a lot has changed in that time.

So, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the history of the auction house with a short timeline.

500 BC – the first recorded auction

Did you know the first recorded auction activity can be traced back to Ancient Greece in 500 BC? Whilst we can recognise the auction process in these records, these were a far cry from what we know today as they saw families auctioning female relatives as brides!

193 AD – the Roman Empire goes to the highest bidder

The Romans adopted the auction technique to sell off assets such as property estates, war trinkets and those they had captured. The most significant auction recorded during this era (and perhaps ever) saw the entire Roman Empire put up for auction in 193 AD, in which the highest bidder became the new Emperor.

17th century – candle auctions and established auction houses

It’s thought that the popularity of auctions dwindled until the mid-17th century. By this time, the auction was typically held by candle, meaning that the end of the auction process was signalled once a lit candle was extinguished – the unexpected nature of this driving anticipation to ramp up bidding.

Between the 17-18th centuries, many auction houses were founded in cities such as London and Stockholm, some of which still exist and the world’s largest and oldest auction houses today.

00’s and today – online auctions and new types of customers

Today the auction environment has changed significantly and the team at Auction House Sussex has seen the market diversify in terms of those coming to buy or sell at auction, with more first-time buyers and investors exploring their options for viable ways of purchasing property.

The variation of lots coming to market has also shifted, with high-end properties and entire residential developments or streets, as well as commercial and mixed-use lots coming and going – all of which make for a very exciting time for the auction industry!

Can we learn anything from the auction house’s history?

Whilst technological developments such as the online auction and artificial intelligence allow for greater precision in terms of ‘winner’ certainty, it seems we can still take lessons from the old candle auction. With more virtual auctions taking place, some online systems are placing measures to prevent potential buyers from auction sniping (using last-minute tactics of bidding as they anticipate a lot ending) by generating random times for auctions to end.

Join us for the next auction taking place at the Hove Club on Thursday 12th September 2019. You can view the lots up for auction here. If you have any questions about the lots or would like some more information around coming to auction, please get in touch with the team here.