Monday, October 16, 2006

$5 Million in Prime Virginia Resort Properties to Hit Auction Block in Multi-Property Live, Internet Even

Atlantic Asset Management Group to auction Norfolk and Virginia Beach residential properties in simulcast international event. Norfolk, VA (PRWEB) October 13, 2006 -- Six prime Virginia resort properties will be auctioned in a multi-property, multi-day auction event that will be simulcast internationally via the internet, according to William J. Summs, President and Lead Auctioneer of Norfolk-based Atlantic Asset Management Group, Inc.

We hadn’t thought of it much
Auctions for all 6 properties will be conducted on site and simulcast internationally via the internet during a consecutive five-day event, October 25-29, allowing remote buyers to bid alongside on-site buyers.

"We are extremely excited about this auction event," said Summs. "These six properties are located in the prime Virginia resort areas of East Ocean View, Court House Forest, Baycliff, Chicks Beach and Croatan Hills."

The event will kick off with two newly constructed, 4-story, single-family, detached condo units, selling separately on Wednesday, October 25. "These properties are only one block from the beach in the Ocean View area of Norfolk!" Summs noted. The condos will be followed on Thursday, October 26, by a newly renovated 2,700 square-foot brick ranch on a secluded half-acre lot in Court House Forest.

The auction features a signature waterfront estate on Broad Bay in Virginia Beach, a beautiful 4,400 square foot home in the exclusive Baycliff community. Built in 1977, this property offers an in-ground pool, private pier and boat lift. Buyers will have the opportunity to bid on this property on Friday, October 27.

The weekend will offer opportunities to own a Chesapeake Bay Home with two adjoining bayfront lots at Chicks Beach, plus a signature waterfront home in Croatan Hills with the best views of Lake Christine.

Summs explained that there will be an auction buyers seminar and final open house 90 minutes prior to each auction.

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold
A signature Kingsmill property in Williamsburg, VA, sits on the market for over a year. Its 9,600 square feet of exquisite living space by the James River, overlooking one of the country’s premiere golf courses, eluded all buyers with its $2.9 million listing price. No reasonable offers were even made.

Enter William J. Summs of Atlantic Asset Management Group, Inc. (AAMG), who introduced the seller to the power of real estate auctions. Working with Summs, the property sold for more than its original asking price.

No longer are real estate auctions solely associated with foreclosures or distressed sales. High-end custom homes and new construction are now finding their way to the auction block. Incredible? "Not really," comments Summs "Our marketing campaigns are aggressive. We advertise extensively both locally and nationally for up to six weeks creating excitement among potential buyers."

Auction works for all properties, consistently achieving real-time market values. This makes the sellers happy. But what about the buyers, does auction work for them? "Absolutely" Summs explains, "Our buyers are, in a sense, pre-qualified, and all the necessary closing documents are all pre-done by AAMG for a quick and satisfying turnaround. We provide full disclosure and all the buyer-seller negotiating is settled before the bidding even begins."

AAMG also offers its own benefits to buyers through their affiliation with National City Mortgage (NCM). "We provide NCM with all of the paperwork ahead of time," Summs says, "and they provide buyers’ incentives. If a buyer goes through NCM, they can get approval in 24 hours."

In 2005, the National Auctioneers Association reported $14.2 billion in residential and $13.7 billion in commercial real estate was sold successfully by auction. Auctions are definitely becoming the trend in real estate sales. "It’s a win-win situation for all involved," said Summs, "especially since brokers are always protected when properties sell with AAMG."

Developers Turn To Auctions
Business executive-turned-developer, Sharon Slawta, and her partner in Coastal Living Designs, Jeffrey Thompson, have two of their new properties on the auction block. Both single-family condominiums are in the beautifully renovated Ocean View area of Norfolk, Va., and each is a multi-level masterpiece that rises above the tree lines, offering breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Our first developments sold quickly in the traditional market," Slawta said, "but the market has flattened out, and we weren’t having as much activity with our two custom-built, detached condominiums." Both their agent and a friend suggested they try selling at auction and recommended William J. Summs. "We hadn’t thought of it much," said
Thompson, "but after contacting Mr. Summs, we found that we share the same vision!"

Slawta adds "It’s a new way of doing business. It seems like a great way for brokers and auction houses to work together." Both are hopeful their properties will do well at auction and remain excited about the process. The slowing in the real estate market has created an increased number of competitive listings. The auction process allows the auction company to focus on specific properties, creating a sense of excitement and directed activity that rarely exists in a buyers’ market.

Why Auction Your Property?
Auctioning property offers many benefits to buyers, sellers and even Realtors®. For sellers, they know that buyers come prepared to buy. Other seller benefits include: quick disposal, reducing long-term carrying costs; assurance of sale at true market value, accelerating the sale; creating competition among buyers; eliminating numerous and unscheduled showings; and, especially, knowing that there’s an aggressive marketing program that increases interest and visibility.

Buyers gain a great deal of benefits as well. Not only are they assured the seller is committed to sell, but they also have the benefits of determining the purchase price, eliminating long negotiation periods and reducing time to purchase property. Buyers also have the benefit of knowing definitive purchasing and closing dates, as well as knowing they are competing fairly with other buyers and receiving a full-disclosure funding package.

These opportunities aren’t just reserved for sellers and buyers. One of the greatest benefits is that auction generates a list of ready, qualified buyers for Realtors®. In addition, auction also allows Realtors® to offer clients new selling and purchasing options, increase revenue and market share, expose the property to many potential buyers (property is usually sold in six weeks), bring people in to look at all the listings, not just the auction listings and agents can earn commissions as referring, cooperating, or listing agent/broker.

About Atlantic Asset Management Group
Based in Norfolk, Va., Atlantic Asset Management Group, Inc. (AAMG), is a licensed and bonded auction firm specializing in assets of substantial value. Using national market presence and innovative techniques, AAMG’s primary objective is to reach all possible bidders for the property at auction, converting the heightened interest of qualified buyers into attendance, bids and ultimately into a profitable sale of the property.

Contact Information:
Atlantic Asset Management Group, Inc.
William J. Summs, CAI, President
1195 Lance Road
Norfolk, VA 23502
phone: 757-461-6867
fax: 757-499-7071
Toll free: 866-908-3668

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Auction Hammers and Gavels
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


gavel3A symbol of authority, used to show “finality” to an auction transaction, the auction hammer, or gavel, has been a prized possession of the professional auctioneer all through history. In fact, during the late 19th century and early 20th century, auctioneers were referred to as “Knights of the Hammer.”

The hammer is one of the oldest working tools used by man. This was illustrated by the Scandinavian mythological “Thor,” the principal god who wielded his hammer to destroy his enemies. According to the legend his hammer always returned to him without doing injury to himself. It can be said that the striking of the hammer is to destroy the enemies of all that is good or true.

The origin of the auction hammer, or gavel, is not clear. Research shows that very little has been written on the subject. Even the historical derivation of the word “gavel” is unknown. Originally, the word “gavel” was used in Middle English to represent the payment of “rent” from a tenant to a superior, or landlord. If the payment was made by product the word would be shown as a hyphenated term such as gavel-corn, gavel-malt, etc. Sometimes the word was spelled “gabel.” Other words related to the early rent arrangements were “gavelman” (a tenant obligated to pay rent) and “gavelet” (Legal writ authorizing the payment of rent). It is very likely that the word “gavel” was applied to the hammer that had to settle rent disputes, as there is evidence that there were many unruly rent disputes in the English Court system.

The generic word “gavel” came to mean many different objects from hammer, mallets, mallots, setting mauls and hammers.

Perhaps the earliest users of the hammer were the Masonic Lodges which were known to exist in England dating back as early as the 1400s. Originally the masons used a setting maul as a symbol of maintaining order during their meetings. This maul would be placed upright when the meeting was in order and laid in its cradle when the lodge was recessed. In addition, during the middle ages “Mallets were thrown and all ground over which traversed were acknowledged to be possessed by the thrower. This practice gave rise to the symbolism of the mallet indicating the possession of his lodge.” (Hunt and Haywood). Further evidence is presented in an English ordinance enacted in 1462 that declared that “lewd women should remain as far from the Masonic Lodges as a hammer could be hurled.”

gavel1The Masonic Order used the hammer or gavel for keeping order and punctuating actions in the lodges and meetings. Although it was permissible to strike the hammer to indicate finality, according to Roberts Rules, “It is a mistake for the presiding officer to try to keep order by pounding with the gavel.”

A symbol of authority
The gavel is a symbol of authority. The hammer symbolizes executive power, as this tool provides a striking blow. Ultimately, it is a symbol of authority without the use of force. Freemasons sometimes refer to this gavel as the “president’s hammer.” The gavel of the Master lodge was referred to as a “Hiram” as it keeps order in the Lodge as Hiram did in the Temple. (Mackey & Hunt).

The word “Gavel” was a fairly late arrival. It is said to be an American usage for the words hammer and maul. The gavel is described in the English Dictionary of 1901 as a mason’s setting maul or a presid: hammer.

gavel2The gavel represents the force of conscience. Perhaps, that is why the American Senate operates with the use of a gavel. “The original ivory gavel is one of the most precious articles in the Senate’s collection. According to tradition, Vice President John Adams (our first Vice President and therefore our first President of the Senate) used this gavel to call the Senate to order in New York in the spring of 1789. Although we cannot document that, we know for certain the gavel was used as early as 1831. In the late 1940s the old gavel began to wear out, so silver tips were added to each end to strengthen and preserve it. In 1954, as Vice President Richard Nixon presided over a heated discussion about atomic energy, the precious gavel fell apart. Senate officials wanted to recreate the original as exactly a possible. When no ivory of sufficient size could by found commercially, India, through its embassy, provided the ivory and had the new gavel hand-carved in exactly the same dimensions as the new one. The new gavel began service n November 17, 1954, and is still in use today. At the end of each long day of service the gavel is placed in a box beside the mended original gavel.” (

Today, the gavel is used less and less in formal settings and has become a symbol of authority rather then a tool of the trade. In an article titled “The Vanishing Sound of the Rap of the Gavel” by Deborah Pines, she reveals that few judges use the gavel that is displayed on their courtroom bench. The same is true of many auctioneers. Perhaps, this is a good trend. Rather than the inflexible, final, harsh rap of the gavel to seal a decision, humanity is evolving its systems into more compassionate, and reasonably flexible institutions that allow for “appeals” and perhaps a second chance.

Trivia: How big and where is the World’s largest gavel? The Guinness Book of World Records places it at Gallery Auctions 10205 Sweetwater, Houston, TX 77037. 9 ¾ feet long. The head is 64 inches in circumference. The gavel weighs 270 pounds.


1892 U.S. land auction marketed by extensive foldout brochure
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


It is my opinion that the auction method of marketing was the key to the successful expansion and economic development of America. The entrepreneurial spirit of early settlers coupled with the auction method of marketing allowed for fair and rapid growth and development of territories, states, counties, cities and villages.

One example of such planned and rapid growth can be glimpsed by studying an original 1892 folded auction brochure that is titled “Sale of Lots in the Hot Springs Reservation.” Further, “Good Opportunity to Invest, Auction of City Lots at Hot Springs, Ark., By The U.S. Government April 12 th 1892 at 10 O'clock A.M. and continuing from day to day thereafter.”

The 4” x 9” folded brochure opens to 27 x 28, being double sided. One side is a plat map of the entire city with shaded parcels indicating the 326 city lots that would be sold at absolute auction, no minimum or reserve. The other side has 18 panels providing a tremendous amount of information on the city, surrounding area, improvements, statistics, infrastructure, history, auction terms, benefits to investing and more. The information provided would rival any due diligence package produced by today's professional real estate Auctioneers.

The brochure has only one advertisement. The single panel promotes the “ Iron Mountain Route ” trains that run daily from St. Louis to Hot Springs . The advertisement boasts “Solid Trains of Free Reclining Chair Cars and Pullman Buffet Sleeping Cars.” The ad refers to Hot Springs as “The Sanitarium Pleasure Resort of a Continent.”

The map side of the document is titled “Map of the Hot Springs Reservation in the State of Arkansas as surveyed and laid out according to act of Congress approved March 3 rd 1877 . The map was completed in December of 1879. The scale of the map was 100 feet per inch. The bottom border of the map has large lettering “Unsold Lots Colored” and “Map of Government Property of Hot Springs to be Sold at Auction, April 12, 18 92 .”

Each of the 18 panels of the brochure provides significant information for the potential investors. Overall, they provide much more information then would typically be presented today. For instance one panel reveals the acreage of each of the surrounding mountains, another panel provides a chart of the “Analyses of the Waters of the Hot Springs of Arkansas” with the breakdown by percentages of the various minerals in each of the known and named Springs. Information is provided on “Government Improvements,” “Reservation Improvements” and “General Improvements.”

Further, the brochure provides information on the curative value of the waters, the names of all the bath houses and numbers of tubs in each, the numbers and names of hotels, churches, schools, banks, business houses, water works, street railway, roads and more.

The terms for the Auction were simple, “Each lot will be sold separately. The purchase money must be paid at the time the lot is knocked down to purchaser, or the lot may be reoffered then or thereafter. For cause deemed sufficient by the officers acting for the Government at the sale, approved by the Secretary of the Interior, the sale may be discontinued or adjourned to another date.” Note: The Secretary of the Interior had the authority to direct a sale of any and all land that was not deemed restricted. The brochure states The Superintendent, who has been appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to safeguard and manage the Reservation, in his report for 1891 says, ‘I would respectfully recommend that an appraisement and public sale of a portion of the unsold lots be ordered for March or April of 1892.”

Reason for the auction
The main reason to conduct the auction was to raise capital for further government improvements. “The Government has already expended a large amount in the improvement of the Hot Springs Reservation (Not to be confused with an Indian Reservation), has added much to its beauty and greatly increased its usefulness as a sanitarium and pleasure resort. Much has been done, but there is much still to be completed. When, however, the government work is accomplished and private capital has kept pace, which it will do, there will be one of the grandest resorts here, both for pleasure and health, during the entire year, that the world knows.”

According to a contemporary Hot Springs website, “Congress established Hot Springs Reservation on April 20, 18 32 to protect hot springs flowing from the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain . This makes it the oldest park currently in the National Park System, 40 years older than Yellowstone National Park . People have used the hot spring water in therapeutic baths for more than 200 years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. The reservation eventually developed into a well-known resort nicknamed "The American Spa" because it attracted not only the wealthy but also indigent health seekers from around the world. Today the park protects eight historic bathhouses with the former luxurious Fordyce Bathhouse housing the park visitor center.

The entire "Bathhouse Row" area is a National Historic Landmark District that contains the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in North America . By protecting the 47 hot springs and their watershed, the National Park Service continues to provide visitors with historic leisure activities such as hiking, picnicking, and scenic drives. Hot Springs Reservation became Hot Springs National Park by a Congressional name change on March 4, 19 21 .”

Obviously the 1892 Government Land Auction of city lots was a success. This brochure is proof that the auction method of marketing was the best mechanism to bridge governmental planning with the private, entrepreneurial spirit, resulting in expeditious growth and development.

This is a great example of the free enterprise system at work. In 1892 the federal government trusted the auction method of marketing. It sold 326 city lots without minimum or reserve to acquire working capital to be used for additional improvements. Further, the federal government believed in the free enterprise system and in its citizens. A mix of planned growth and the free enterprise system has had positive results.

The year round population of Hot Springs in 1892 was estimated at approximately 12,000, which grew to 36,566 by 2003.

The auction method of marketing real estate is still working well today in Hot Springs , AR. But, don't take my word for it, check out upcoming real estate auctions by going to and searching for auctions in Hot Springs , AR. You may have missed the 1892 auction, but it's not too late to get your bid card in the air for a contemporary property.


19th century record set at estate auction of Mary Jane Morgan
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


The history of Auctions in America contains the stories of many memorable collectors, dealers and Auctioneers as well as the treasures that they accumulated and dispersed. However, one estate auction that occurred in the late 19th century was credited with the making of a major American auction house, setting world records and revealing the secret life and collecting expertise of a quiet, unassuming lady affectionately known as “Mary Jane.”

Mary Jane Sexton was the daughter of a successful New York City merchant. She was one of eight children. She was well educated in a series of fine schools. She became a teacher in Greenwich Village of French and mathematics. One of her students was a daughter of Charles Morgan, a widower who owned a fleet of sailing vessels.

Although Charles had a great respect for book learning, he himself was said to be practically illiterate. He was naturally attracted to Mary Jane and they wed in June of 1852. Morgan was 57 and Mary Jane was yet in her twenties. In fact, she was quite a bit younger then the sons of Charles.

Charles Morgan was from Connecticut and of Welch descent. He was a strong willed, one-man show of entrepreneurial power. He did not have use for banks or lawyers, trusted few people and had no partners. He was very frugal with personal spending. However, he invested heavily into the transportation industries where he made his fortune. Charles passed away in 1878.

Mary Jane was the only person that Charles truly trusted. There is a saying, “Where there is a will, there are relatives.” As executrix, she handled his affairs professionally and accurately amid tremendous criticism and pressure from greedy relatives and heirs. She avoided the press and continued to live her private life without fanfare. She was not into the high profile social scene that her neighbors enjoyed.

What nobody seemed to know was that Mary Jane had copies of every issue of “The Art Journal” published since her wedding day. That she studied and invested in quality art, fine art, antique furniture and accessories behind closed doors at her home at number seven Madison Square. High Society had written off Mary Jane as the “poor, boring widow” of the late Charles Morgan.

Investor in paintings
After the passing of her husband, Mary Jane increased her shopping sprees down Broadway. She shrewdly purchased paintings from Knoedlers, picking some of the best contemporary artists’ works. She knew art and would not purchase what they tried to “place” with her. Rather, she would peruse the inventory choosing the best examples. After finding what she wanted she negotiated hard to buy at a fair price. Mary Jane turned the big gloomy mansion into a museum filled with paintings, etchings, fine glass, porcelain, furniture and bronzes.

She quietly beautified her home, one item at a time. Her home was not open to the public; there were no parties.Therefore, no one knew that “plain Jane” had built a larger museum then the public examples in the city of New York. No one knew what she had. She never went into the streets with any of her million-dollar cache of jewels. Even her relatives had no idea what she had accumulated.

Mary Jane died in July of 1885 of Bright’s disease. It wasn’t immediately apparent that the once drab house would boast “the choicest collection of contemporary paintings in the world.” In fact her sister announced to the press that Mary Jane’s personal property was worth about $250,000. (According to Wesley Towner in his book The Elegant Auctioneers, “One dealer claims that Mary Jane spent over $700,000 with him alone.”)

Thomas Ellis Kirby, the principal Auctioneer for the American Art Galleries located right across the street from Mary Jane’s residence was called in to do the estate evaluation. It wasn’t long before the choicest pieces were crossing the street in preparation for the world’s greatest auction.

Kirby was attempting to raise the standards and change the reputation of the “Auction Room” in America. He had some minor successes in acquiring major art auctions in New York. However, this was his big chance and he took it.

The catalog expenses for the “Mrs. Mary J. Morgan” Estate Auction was a staggering $40,000. Five hundred catalogs were hand delivered to mansions across New York City. Only 500 numbered catalogs were published. The hardbound copies had gold leaf edges. The auction was to be held at Chickering Hall on the corner of Fifth Ave. The collection was to be sold without reserve. There were twelve scheduled auction sessions. Preview was available for 20 straight days prior to the first session. Over 100,000 people previewed the auction.

The world was astonished that a woman could amass such a collection on her own. The disbelief was reflected in the newspaper articles published prior to the auction that chastised dealers from taking advantage of the widow. Even her administrator and brother-in-law stated, “She was prey of any quantity of sharps.” However, critics were silenced after the results were in.

The auction of Mary Jane’s Estate fetched $1,205,152, the highest recorded estate auction proceeds in the world. A record that would stand for more then 20 years! By today’s standards that auction would equate to $23,469,981.40 according a CPI calculator.

The success of Mary Jane’s Estate Auction propelled Kirby’s American Art Galleries business to a new level. Several major Auctions, including the “Seney” and “Stewart” Auctions were booked by Kirby that were originally destined to be sold in London. According to Wesley Towner, one Auction observer commented after the Morgan Auction, “They ought to erect a monument.” Towner’s answer was, “They did, and it was an Auction House.”


The Civil War Period Kentucky Estate Auction
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


A six-page handwritten estate settlement document dated December 11, 1863, provides a glimpse of life in the South during the Civil War and the workings of the auction method of marketing at that time. What is particularly interesting about this snapshot in time is that the auction recorded the sale of four slaves approximately 11 months after Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

This document was written and signed by the Auctioneer’s clerk, T. Stanhope Ellis. The Auctioneer was Coleman Covington. The clerked sheets provide the name of each purchaser of every described lot and the individual prices realized. There were 128 lots purchased by 34 successful bidders. The auction grossed $1,872.26 ($26,700 in today’s dollars, based on CPI) There is no indication that real estate was sold.

The deceased was known as William Duncan, as witnessed by the “Sale Bill.” Interestingly, there are four successful bidders with the last name Duncan who purchased a total of 42 lots, approximately 34% of the auction. Does this reflect the strength of the immediate family at a local on-site estate auction in 1863? Another fact is that Mrs. E. Duncan purchased 19 lots herself, almost half of what the Duncan family bought. Was she William’s mother, wife or sister-in-law? I would think that the entry would have been “Mrs. W. Duncan” if it had been his wife. The other Duncans were Archey, William and George. By the way, there were at least six women that bought items at the auction.

So let’s step back in time, get on the ground and in the crowd for the start of the auction sale on December 11, 1863. The first lot of the auction was a cradle and three blades that sold for ten cents ($1.46 today) to Emanuel Fritz, who was successful in purchasing a buggy and harness 21 lots later for 25.50 ($371), finishing out his purchases for the day.

The second lot, off to a slow start, was a mowing blade selling for a quarter ($3.64 today) to the Auctioneer - Coleman Covington. Someone might cry foul at that in today’s world. However, Covington went on to knock down a total of 14 lots to himself over the course of the auction, placing him just behind Mrs. Duncan for the most lots bought. Perhaps this was a more acceptable practice in the mid 19th century. Did he just try to start items but ended up getting stuck with them? Did he have deeper pockets then the local buyers? How was the Auctioneer perceived?

Low prices
Let’s pause in the auction action to summarize Coleman Covington’s purchases. He purchased a half-dozen miscellaneous lots for less than one dollar. However, he spent $8.00 for a barrel of salt ($116), $5.10 for an “Acorn Top Bedstead” ($74.30), $4.80 for six black chairs (.80 each, equal to $11.60 each today), $9 for a cow and calf ($131) and $6.00 for a stack of straw (four lots of hay straw sold for an average of $13 a stack before the fifth stack sold at $5.50, with the auctioneer purchasing the last stack at $6.00). His successful bids started with Lot 2 and ended with Lot 126. We know for a fact he was a buyer from start to finish. By the way, before the auction was over, the clerk would have also purchased three lots.

Let’s go back to the action where Archey Duncan has purchased the third lot in the auction, the other mowing blade, for 90 cents ($13.10). Wow, I always thought Auctioneers were supposed to sell the best example of a commodity first. Yet the first mowing blade fetched a quarter ($3.64) from the Auctioneer, leaving the second one to bring three times the Auctioneer’s bid. Was this a wake-up call? Archey buys seven more lots before the auction is over.

By the end of page one, 24 lots have been hammered down for a total of $78.01 ($1,130). The Auctioneer chants another 26 lots bringing the total by the end of page 2 up to $149.46 ($2,170), advancing to $215.26 ($3,130) by the end of page 3.

Although Mrs. E. Duncan purchased seven lots in the first three pages, she started slow. She purchased nothing on page 1, three lots on page 2 and four lots on page 3. Do you think she was bidding based on how the dollars were adding up? I believe she was. Her activity accelerated on page 4 with the purchase of eleven out of 25 lots. Early in the auction she was buying household items and some furniture, with the most expensive lot being a Bed Stead and bedding at $15.25 ($222.00). Note: Textiles were one of the most expensive items found in a home prior to the late 1800’s. Examples include: feather bed – $8.50 ($123), two pillows $7.50 ($109), one blanket - $3.25 (47.30) and one linen sheet – $1.05 ($15.30). In comparison, a sewing table fetched $2.00 ($29.10), a bookcase $1.50 ($21.80) and one large spinning wheel - $1.30 ($18.90).

The excitement must have been building by the time Dr. Barkley (Shouldn’t he be with the wounded?) bought Lot 100 at the bottom of page 4, “2 old heifers – 11.50” ($167), bringing the total of the sale up to $400.71 ($5,830).

All of page 5 entries are strong lots starting with “1 Yoke Oxen – $59” ($859) purchased by John Eskill. Right after the sale of the mules and horses are the three lots of slaves. They were offered according to value. “1 Boy Albert - $470,” ($6,840) (Brought more then the total of the first 100 lots!), next “1 Woman Puf & Child – $230 ($3,350) and lastly, “1 Boy Sam – $160” ($2,330.00). Wm. Duncan purchased Albert, while Archey Duncan purchased the woman, child and “Sam.” It appears that the slaves all stayed in the family.

Although the three lots of slaves brought approximately 40% of the auction’s gross, they sold for less then 50% of their pre-Civil War value. (Note: According to the Anti-Slavery Society website, The Emancipation Proclamation “Did not apply to those slave states, such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, which had not seceded from the Union.”)

The last lots in the auction were the crops, “Shocks of Corn,” which were sold in several lots. The results show no lots “passed.” Perhaps only lots that received bids were written up.

So there we have it – one day at the auction, where everything changes hands and starts anew. The auction method of marketing was then, and still is, the leading choice for the fastest, fairest and most efficient means to liquidate assets for cash.


Auctioning Abraham Lincoln memorabilia; Lincolniana
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, born in 1809, is perhaps the most collected of all the past presidents.

America’s founding father, George Washington is also extremely popular. However, in perusing early auction catalogs it is evident that there were more auction sales offering major collections of Lincoln memorabilia than those depicting Washington material.

Is it a coincidence that Washington is on the $1 bill and Lincoln is displayed on the $5? Perhaps the answer is as simple as there was more Lincoln memorabilia available to collect then Washingtonia.

Illustrated in this article are three samples of auction catalogs published by the Anderson Auction Company of New York City. The dates of the catalogs are 1904, 1907 and 1914. From these catalogs can be gleaned insight into the types of material collected and even prices paid.

Of the three catalogs the most informative is the 1914 example containing the most complete collection of Lincolniana. This major collection was assembled by Major William H. Lambert (1842-1912). A personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, Lambert’s collection was considered one of the finest. Many of the items were gotten directly from the president.

According to the catalog, “Major William H. Lambert was a distinguished veteran of the Civil War, a prominent business man, and well known in public and social life and as an historical writer, lecturer, and collector. He died in his home in Philadelphia, PA, which was his home for nearly 70 years. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during the Civil War.

Knowing and admiring President Lincoln, he became a serious collector of Lincolniana. Lambert was the first president of the Lincoln Fellowship, formed in 1907 and based in the Fifth Ave. Hotel in New York City. This early collecting society was formed just two years prior to the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Lincoln.

1909 was to be a major National Centennial event to commemorate Lincoln’s Birthday. By the way, the first state to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, declaring it a legal holiday, was Illinois (his home state) in 1892. Over the next 17 years many states followed suit. However, in 1909 it became a national gala holiday. This celebration was the largest since the 1876 Centennial of America’s birth.

According to the catalog, “Major Lambert began collecting material related to Abraham Lincoln immediately after the Civil War, and it is generally conceded, by all who really know, that his Lincoln collection was the greatest in this country. Besides autograph letters and manuscripts, he owned all the Lincoln funeral sermons printed and accessible, many personal relics, such as Lincoln’s writing desk used in his law office in Springfield, all the known engravings and photographs, and many other items.”

The 124-page illustrated catalog describes 1028 lots sold over five sessions in three days. Sales were in the afternoon, 2:30, and evening – 8:15 PM. It appears that sessions averaged about two hundred lots. The Auctioneer was George D. Morse. The terms were simple and fairly standard for the early 20th Century galleries. A few items worth noting: The cost of the catalog was $2.50 ($45.85 in today’s equivalent dollars). The preview/exhibition spanned nine days prior to the first session. It is also interesting to note that absentee bids were handled at no charge and in a competitive manner.

A sampling of lots from the catalog include a military poem titled “Abram” signed by “A Young Rebelle” and dated 1863 that sold for $80. (Today’s value of $1,469.09), Lincoln’s own Webster’s dictionary with notes - $730 ($13,387.23), another book from his library with notes that it was used for formulating his first anti-slavery speech was titled “The Life and Speeches of Henry Clay,” By Henry Clay - $450 (8,252.40).

One of the rare broadsides offering a “$100,000 REWARD! THE MURDERER” of our late President fetched $400 (7,335.47). A bronze cast of a life-mask of Lincoln done by the artist L.W. Volk in 1860 went under the hammer at $325 (5,960.07).

Original playbills from Ford’s theatre from the day of the assassination fetched $675 ($12,378.60). The famous Lincoln-signed Emancipation Proclamation, one of 50 authorized copies of the original, brought $3,250 ($59,600.67).

Emancipation Proclamation
According to the information found on the website of the “Anti-Slavery Society,” “On January 1, 1863 President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. There are several aspects, which should be noted. First, Lincoln issued it in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy as a “necessary war measure.”

Secondly, when issued it did not immediately free a single slave. This is because its application was limited to those parts of North America, which were still under the control of the armed forces of the Confederate States of America. It did not apply to those Slave States, such as Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri which had not seceded from the Union, nor did it apply to those parts of the Confederate States of America, such parts of Virginia (which was later admitted to the Union as West Virginia) and Florida., which had been occupied by and remained under the control of US forces at that date.

These limitations were necessary for constitutional reasons. In other words, unlike a dictatorship where the people could be “decreed” to free slaves, our country is governed by the rule of law. Simply put, he did not have the power to free all the slaves with his proclamation.

A private and confidential letter from Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull dated Dec. 10, 1860 took a very strong stance on the extension of slavery in the Union. “Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and ere long must be done over again. This is dangerous ground – stand firm. The tug has to come; and better now than any time hereafter.” The letter sold for $1,100. ($20,172.53)

The 1914 catalog offered a lock of Lincoln’s hair. Recently a strand of Lincoln’s hair sold at auction. It is amusing to compare the results. Lot 825, in 1914 boasted a lock of hair cut from Lincoln’s head after he was shot. It sold for $330 (6,051.76). In comparison, $10,575 was paid for a strand of Lincoln’s hair recently at Bonhams & Butterfields of Los Angeles, CA.

Lloyd Ostendorf of Dayton, Ohio assembled the recent auction of Lincolniana. The collection fetched a total of $942,370. Major Lambert’s auction, according to the handwritten notations totaled $49,850, converting to $914,182.53 in today’s money (CPI). It’s great to see that the Auction Method of Marketing is working just as well as it did 89 years ago.


The Livestock Auctioneers
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


Featured this month are postcards from livestock auctions of the early 1900s. The cards show the scenes, the language and the advertising concepts that surrounded this type of auction in that period of history.

Some cards were double sided, some were single sided. Some advertised not only livestock, but related equipment such as carriages and wagons. Some livestock auctions of that period drew very large crowds, as depicted in the photographs of that time.

A large double-sided postcard distributed by Joseph B. Maher & Son from Alma, Michigan advertising a Horse Auction. The auction was “Next Thursday” which tells us the lead-time on their mailing. The auction took place at 1PM at the Marion Livestock Auction Co. Yards.

Buyers were encouraged to bring all their livestock. The auctioneer offered “Nothing but a square deal to all.” In addition to being auctioneers they were also “Livestock Dealers and Breeders of Pure Bred Jersey Cattle, White Wyandotte Chickens, Poland China Hogs, Mules & Horses.” The postcard was mailed to “Rural Route Box Holders.”

A 1913 photo postcard of a large crowd surrounding a couple of head of cattle is embossed “Going! Going! At a handsome price “Storm” the Auctioneer Sherburn, Minn.”

1912 color postcard is a very detailed scene of auction day at the “Kolb-Gotfredson Horse Co. from Detroit, Michigan. This appears to be a very well established facility with “Auction Sales Thursdays & Saturdays.” They also sold “Carriages, Buggies and Wagons.”

Note the impressive lineup of horses and the large crowd. There is a red flag waving on the top of the building that has the company name on it. The writing on the postcard was meant for a person in St. Joseph, Mo.

This 1905 black and white photo postcard depicts a large crowd surrounding a pair of horses. The photograph was taken and published by “E.W. Humphreys, Woodstown, NJ.” The card is titled “A Country Vendue.”
1906 cancelled envelope with two-cent stamp sent from “D.P. McCracken National Live Stock Auctioneer 607 E. Pells, Paxton, Ill.” The black and white photo shows an arm with gavel over the body of a standing hog. The title is “Under the Hammer.” This 1913 embossed aluminum advertising calendar is “Compliments of C.E. Luther & Sons Auctioneers.”
The names of three auctioneers, all Luthers, is provided below their portraits. “Twenty years experience in thoroughbred stock and farm sales. Secure our service and get the highest price for your goods. We have made over 1500 sales. For reference, come and hear us. Secure your dates early, by phone or wire at our expense. Grand Junction, Iowa.” Note: Aluminum was a very expense metal when it was first produced.
C-1900 North Dakota photo postcard of a large white workhorse at an on-site auction surrounded by a large crowd.
C-1900 Auctioneer’s business card. “Col. W. Breazier livestock Auctioneer.” A neat paragraph states “Come all you good farmers and pray lend an ear, I can tell you that Col. W. Breazier is an auctioneer, he’s up-to-date, wide awake and chuck full of vim. When you want an auctioneer call on him. Phone, write or call at his expense." Lincoln, Kansas.
(The advertising “cut” of a monkey was actually sold by the publishers of the International Auctioneers Magazine in 1900 from Chicago.) The information in the monkey states, “ Don’t Monkey with other Auctioneers but see me. I conduct Real Estate, Pedigree Stock, Merchandise Sales and make a specialty of Farm Sales.” The backside of the card has information on, “The Age of a Horse.” “To tell the age of any horse inspect the lower jaw. Of course the six front teeth the tale will tell and any doubt and fear dispel. Two middle nippers you behold before the colt is two months old; before eight weeks two more will come; eight months the corners on the gum. The outside grooves will disappear from the middle two in just one year. In two years from the second pair; in three years the “corners” too are bare. At two the middle nippers drop; at three the second pair can’t stop. When four years old the third pair goes; at five a full new set he shows. The deep black spots will pass from view, at six years from the middle two; the second pair at seven years; at eight, the spot each corner clears from the middle nippers upper jaw. At nine the black spots will withdraw; the second pair at ten are bright; eleven finds the corners light. As time goes on the horseman knows the oval of the teeth three sided grow; they longer get – project – before twenty when we know no more.”


The Auctioneer's Business Card
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


Since the late 1800s Auctioneers have utilized printed business cards and trade cards to solicit business.

Below is a sample of some early American Auctioneers’ business cards

A C-1900 photo postcard of H. Fortney of Sterling, Ohio literally on the block. The card states, “Ask for dates.”

Col. W. H. Knolla was “The Leading Auctioneer” of Villisca, Iowa, says so on the back.

Sam’l Porter was an Auctioneer and Insurance Agt. From Beverly, Mass.

H.C. Oliver had his office at City Hall Lynn, Mass.

Wheeler, McElveen & Co. from Boston, Mass had accommodations for over 800 horses.

Capt. Tim Lowery from Greeley, Kansas specialized in Thoroughbred stock sales.

C.H. Yost had an Auction House at 33 Front St. Rochester, NY.

A.C. Cole of Cherryvale, Kansas provided a dozen hints for farmers on the back.

“Auctions Every Monday” at the Omaha Horse & Mule Co.

F.T. DuBois of Warsaw, Illinois operated from Hotel Grant and guaranteed satisfaction.

H. Shartle was from Ruthyen, Iowa states “No sale cried less than $10.00” on back.

Oakland, California was the home of the New York Auction House.

Smith & Pannill from Norfolk, VA sold stores, dwellings, farms, timber lands, wharves, building lots, factory sites, etc.

C.S. Detwiler & Pete Folkenroth from York, PA want to be “Your Sale Cryer.”

“Honesty is the Best Policy” for Carl Banta of Walhalla, N. Dak.


A revealing look at an 1871 estate settlement
By Robert A. Doyle, CAI, ISA, CES, CAGA

50th President of the National Auctioneers Association
Principal Auctioneer/Appraiser Absolute Auction & Realty, Inc.

Robert A. Doyle


Collecting auction-related memorabilia and studying the history of auctions is very rewarding. Each acquisition provides a snippet of historical information that reveals or reinforces data on how auctions were conducted in earlier times. One such artifact is a complete packet of 1871 documents assembled by the executor on the settlement of a modest estate.

This packet of material was all stored in a folded cardboard envelope tied with pink material. The front and end of the envelope are titled in pen “Estate of Israel Tolman. 1871” The contents include handwritten documents from the Probate Court, letters regarding a real estate transaction, a list of expenses of the executor, a small string bound book with “Appraisement & Inventory,” a sample of the auction notice broadside, and other correspondence pertaining to the settlement.

Israel Tolman of Sharon, Massachusetts passed away on July 24, 1871. I’m certain he would have been surprised to know that anyone would be writing about his modest estate settlement 122 years later! Nonetheless, the information contained is original, complete, concise and accurate for the time and therefore is of great interest importance. His Estate was probated on September 20th 1871 at the Norfolk County Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At that time the Will was probated and Ruel Richmond from North Bridgewater was named the Executor.

packet of materialIt is obvious that this packet belonged to the Executor and that he was very thorough in his dealings. In the handwritten book titled “Inventory of Personal Estate. Israel Tolman” and dated September 26, 1871 is a list of items “Given under the Will to Mrs. Susanna P. Tolman, Widow.” The list includes an appraisal of the itemized items under the name of the room that housed the personal property. For example in the “Parlor” there was a “Looking Glass” (wall mirror) valued at $2.50, a bureau - $5., 3 rocking chairs - $1.50 and a sofa - $10.00. (Note: Upholstered furniture and textiles were much more expensive in the 18th and 19th century compared to hardwood furniture and other household items. The 1871 appraisal values a “Pie Closet” at $5., 4 Bedsteads at a total of $10, compared to “Sheets, coverlets & blankets” at $75, and 4 “featherbeds” at $60. The total of the list bequeathed to Susanna was $399.95, which included “Garden stuff” and “Crops not harvested.”

Additional assets in the estate include a $100 note with $3.60 interest, a US Bond valued at $360 and $142.90 in cash. Outside the “Personal Estate for Payment of Debts and Administration” was a list of the items that sold at the auction of October 20th 1871. The cow fetched $46.50, 3 tons of hay - $90. 9 hews - $4.50, 1 hog - $15. and 11 “Bunches of Shingles” - $8.25. An open wagon went for $7 while a sleigh only brought $2. A few of the lowest clerked items were “Hammers - .10, “Peat cutters-.25” and hand rakes fetched a total of fifteen cents.

The appraisal of the Real Estate included, “Homestead – 30 acres with building - $4,250., a 2 acre woodland - $70., 10 acres woodland - $150., and 1 ½ acre meadow - $60.“

The Executor listed expenses for services including the cost of the “Appraisement” at fifty-five cents and the cost of “Inventory” at fifty cents.

To officiate as auctioneer
One of the more revealing handwritten letters was executed by the Executor Revel Richmond and dated Oct 11, 1871 to Mr. Marm. In this letter Revel writes, “I have dropped a note to Mr. Lecavitt of Canton to officiate as Auctioneer, as I am unacquainted with such business.” At the end of the letter he adds, “ Expect to hear from Mr. Lecavitt immediately, I may fail to get him, then I shall have to do something further.”

What is most interesting is that fact that copies of the auction notices were enclosed with the same letter as Revel writes, “Will you please post the inclosed Notices, as many of them as you think are advantage to the sale.” The auction notices are printed and being distributed and the auctioneer has not been selected yet! Further, the auction is scheduled for October 20, just 9 days from the writing of this letter.

auction broadsideNote that the auction notice dated Friday October 20, 1871 does not list the name of the Auctioneer or clerk (Perhaps the Executor was the clerk). I have often been curious about early auction broadsides that did not list the name of the auctioneer. Here is proof that the Executor printed the broadsides and distributed them before choosing an auctioneer.

The auction broadside is fairly simple and straightforward. Measuring 9 ½” x 13,” it provides a simple list, no directions (obviously everyone new where the premises of “Israel Tolman of Sharon” was) and the simple terms of “cash on delivery.” The auction was to start at 1 p.m.– typical of a small estate auction. After lunch saves the expense of providing a “free lunch” which would have been customary had the auction been a large one. (10 a.m. start)

These documents provide a glimpse at how simple life, and the handling of estate settlements were during the mid-19th Century in America. Considering that there were challenges with the transfer of one parcel of real property that necessitated 3 weeks of legal announcements in the “Norfolk County Gazette,” the estate still settled within a couple of months. All the documents involving the closing out of the estate including court letters, copy of Will and all correspondence came neatly folded in one envelope. The end of Israel Tolmans life neatly wrapped up in 1871.