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The History of Auctions [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Ian Lauth

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Auctions have been used for everything from arranging marriages to auctioning antiquities and works of fine art.  While early auctions were closed by driving a spear into the ground instead of the gavel typically use today, the general concept of the auction has remained the same. Over the last 2,000 years, many specialized variations on the standard “open ascending price auction” have been created to provide a more specialized auction experience that best fits the goods or services up for sale.

Some of the first American settlers, the Pilgrims, were known to use auctions as a common method of selling crops, livestock, tools, tobacco, and even entire farms - so auctions have been an integral part of our nation's history. 

In the last 50 years, charity auctions – typically live and silent auctions – have become an immensely popular means of raising money for nonprofit organizations.  Charity auctions are the fourth-fastest growing segment of the auction industry with roughly two-thirds of all National Auctioneers Association members conducting at least one charity auction annually.

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Ian Lauth
Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing development and content design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

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