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It was considered illegal to allow a daughter to be sold outside of the auction method.During the Roman Empire, following military victory, Roman soldiers would often drive a spear into the ground around which the spoils of war were left, to be auctioned off.Examples of this type of auction include: An 18th century Chinese meiping porcelain vase. In 2005, a 14th-century Chinese porcelain piece was sold by the Christie's for £16 million, or US million.

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In some cases these catalogs were elaborate works of art themselves, containing considerable detail about the items being auctioned. The development of the internet, however, has led to a significant rise in the use of auctions as auctioneers can solicit bids via the internet from a wide range of buyers in a much wider range of commodities than was previously practical.

At this time, Christie's established a reputation as a leading auction house, taking advantage of London's status as the major centre of the international art trade after the French Revolution. In 2008, the National Auctioneers Association reported that the gross revenue of the auction industry for that year was approximately 8.4 billion, with the fastest growing sectors being agricultural, machinery, and equipment auctions and residential real estate auctions.

While auctions are most associated in the public imagination with the sale of antiques, paintings, rare collectibles and expensive wines, auctions are also used for commodities, livestock, radio spectrum and used cars.

In economic theory, an auction may refer to any mechanism or set of trading rules for exchange. In 2007, a Roman-era bronze sculpture of "Artemis and the Stag" was sold at Sotheby's in New York for US.6 million, by far exceeding its estimates and at the time setting the new record as the most expensive sculpture as well as work from antiquity ever sold at auction.

According to Herodotus, in Babylon auctions of women for marriage were held annually.

The auctions began with the woman the auctioneer considered to be the most beautiful and progressed to the least.

Christie's, now the world's largest auction house, By the end of the 18th century, auctions of art works were commonly held in taverns and coffeehouses.

These auctions were held daily, and auction catalogs were printed to announce available items.

On March 23 The Praetorian Guard first killed emperor Pertinax, then offered the empire to the highest bidder.

Didius Julianus outbid everyone else for the price of 6,250 drachmas per guard, In a candle auction, the end of the auction was signaled by the expiration of a candle flame, which was intended to ensure that no one could know exactly when the auction would end and make a last-second bid.

The practice rapidly became popular, and in 1660 Samuel Pepys's diary recorded two occasions when the Admiralty sold surplus ships "by an inch of candle".