National Auctioneers Week Part II: Trivia Time

It’s National Auctioneers Week! Whether you’re a pub quiz whiz or the family encyclopedia, knowing facts and figures always seems to impress people. We’re here to help you look good with facts about the auction industry so you can amaze your friends at the next game of trivia.

1. Have you ever heard an auctioneer referred to as a “Colonel” and thought to yourself that Colonel is reserved for military personnel and fried chicken representatives? You’d be right. The term was popularized in the American Civil War.

During the Civil War, the winning side would loot the battlefield, collect the items somewhere for the soldiers to peruse and then auction the items off. These auctions were always conducted by a Colonel and the moniker has stuck ever since. Learn more.

2. As mentioned in our last blog about National Auctioneers Week, auctions have been around for quite some time, but what is the oldest auction house that’s still operating today.

The oldest standing auction house is Sweden’s Stockholms AuktionsverkThis 342 year old auction house has hosted Swedish Royalty through the ages, as both buyers and sellers, and sold just about everything, including a Rembrandt. Read more.

3. Why do auctioneers talk so fast?

At this point, no one really knows, but it appears to be uniquely American. At sales with hundreds of items, like at an equipment auction, you can expect a fast pace. Auctions around the world often employ a slower pace and instead of soliciting higher bids, expect attendees to know bidding increments.

4. Now that you’re thinking about auction trivia, you’ve undoubtedly wondered when we’re getting to the most expensive item ever sold at auction, or maybe you already know. Either way, look no further than the next line!

The most expensive single item sold at auction happened just last year (2015) at a Christie’s auction in New York. Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger sold for a whopping $179,365,000. Note: This does not include large buildings, large businesses, private sales or stock auctions. Read more.

5. Not all things that go for a boatload of cash at auction are so notable. Some are downright weird. While weirdness is subjective, you might be surprised to know how much a lovely lock of famous hair can go for. Think sleek hair and a soulful voice. Who might that hair belong to?

The King, Elvis Presley’s perfect pompadour went for a pretty penny back in 2002 when it sold for $115,000. We think it is safe to say that is the strangest thing anyone has ever shelled out major cash to own. Let us know if you’ve seen stranger things for even larger sums! Read more.

In case you haven’t read our last blog, we have a few tidbits you missed that are also great trivia:

6. Auctions have been around for a very long time, but when and where were they first noted in history?

In Herodotus’s ‘The Histories’, he mentions the practice of auctioning off women as wives in Ancient Babylon, around 500 B.C.E.

7. Auction, it rhymes with the word boxtion (bonus trivia, I made that word up), but where does this word come from?

Auction finds its roots in latin, where it comes from the word “auctus” meaning an increasing.


That is it for this year’s National Auctioneers Week, but in the coming weeks we’ll be exploring some exciting events passing through our Marketplace. Check back to see what’s new on Proxibid.