AUCTIONS AND AUCTIONEERS.—An auction, in Scotland called a roue, is a public competitive sale, in which the conductor thereof obliges himself and his principal to transfer property to the highest bidder. The person, without distinction of sex, who conducts such a sale is an auctioneer. Historical—Selling by auction is supposed to have originated with the Romans, who gave it the descriptive name of auctio, an increase, because the offered property was sold to him who would offer the most for it. At a later day there came into practice the mode of auction known as " sale by the candle." This mode was adopted in the case of certain sales by the East India Company, and is still occasionally followed in out-of-the-way country districts in the disposition of rents and charitable property. In the case of such an auction, the goods were open to offers by bidders during such time as would suffice for the burning of one inch of candle. Another mode of auction, generally practised at the present day by a certain class of itinerant dealers, is called a " Dutch" auction. Herein there is one and only public bid, and that by the auctioneer himself, and at a price beyond the value of the property, the price being then gradually decreased until some one accepts the offer and becomes the purchaser. The modern method is by way of increasing bids on the part of the intending purchasers, the one who bids the highest having his offer accepted by the auctioneer. Licence.—An auctioneer is by statute required to take out an annual licence. For this licence a sum if £10 is payable, and it expires on the 5th July in every year. It expires on that date, however long or short a time may have elapsed since it was taken out. Any person acting as an auctioneer without a licence in full force is liable to a penalty of £100. And any pers." who has words affixed to his business premises purporting that he is an auctioneer, and has not at the same time a licence, is liable to a penalty of £20. The licence is personal to the auctioneer, and he may carry on his business at several different places. He may also act as an appraiser and house-agent without further licence; but he must not trade from town to town as a hawker, or, except in certain cases,. sell excisable goods. During a sale he must expose in a public position in the sale-room his full name and address, and produce his licence upon demtmd to a revenue officer.
The authority of an auctioneer is conferred upon him by the seller, whose agent he primarily is. Its extent will be carefully regarded. Thus it would not extend to authorise an auctioneer to sell by private contract, or to delegate his duties to a clerk. The auctioneer's clerk may, however, be engaged in merely incidental and subsidiary details. As in any other case of agency, the authority of an auctioneer may be revoked, unless coupled with an interest, or where the intervening rights of third policies would suffer by the revocation. If, as a consequence of a subsequent revocation,
a sale bond fide advertised by the auctioneer has to be abandoned, a person who has lost time and expenses in consequence of the advertisement and subsequent abandonment of the sale cannot recover damages therefor from the auctioneer. It has been held that such advertising of a sale is a mere declaration, and does not amount to a contract with any one who might act upon it ; nor is it a warranty that all the articles advertised will be put up for sale. The reader might refer to an apparently similar, though essentially different case, mentioned under the head ADVERTISEMENTS.
Relation of Auctioneer to follows from the above, that an auctioneer is primarily the agent of the seller. Indeed until the fall of the hammer he is exclusively such. He must obey his principal's instructions. When he does not he will be liable in damages. For example, he must not sell under a certain price fixed by his instructions, nor receive payment by a bill of exchange, when his instructions are that purchasers are to pay a deposit at once and the remainder of the purchase-money to the auctioneer on or before delivery of the goods. Nor tan he, unless it is the custom, receive a cheque instead of cash. If he should do so, it should be with the greatest caution, and the goods should not be handed over until the cheque has been honoured. He must moreover sell the property himself. He should account for and pay over all moneys which have actually come into his hands for goods sold on behalf of his principal. If, having exceeded his authority, and in consequence thereof failed to receive money he should have received, he will be liable to his principal therefor. But he is not liable for interest upon money in his hands, unless there has been fiaud or misconduct on his part; such as improperly withholding accounts and refusing to pay over the money when demanded, or applying the money to his own use. He is bound to take the same care of theproperty sent to him for sale that he would take of his own goods, and will be liable for any damage caused by his default or negligence. If goods are wrongfully taken out of his possession, the auctioneer can maintain an action for their recovery in his own name. So also can he sue for the unpaid price of goods he has sold ; but not if he has himself signed as agent for the buyer. At a sale he may bid himself for third parties, and probably even bid openly, fairly, and in good faith for himself. Goods of the principal, when upon the auctioneer's premises at a time when distraint is made to recover rent due from the auctioneer, are absolutely exempt from distress.
Power of Auctioneer.—He has no authority, apart from special in structions, to warrant the goods he sells ; and if he should do so personally, he will be liable personally. If he is in possession of the property sold and