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There are auctions and auctions ; in country districts and in small quiet country towns the attendance of the neighbors and friends of the family whose goods are being scattered by the hammer of the auctioneer is generally numerous, and an honest and open competition takes place for the property to be disposed of. The sales in large cities and their immediate neighborhood are rarely attended by ladies; the company is far too mixed. Dealers, brokers, agents, and brokers’ men form together an assembly the character of which tends to keep away respectable women. If a lady ventures into such a sale, she is met with importunities to give commissions to some of the harpies that frequent auctions. Should she refuse to do so she is subjected to insult and annoyance of a nature that no respectable woman can" possibly endure. At many of the sales coarse, vulgar, and obscene “ chaff” is indulged in, so as to render the scene no fit place for a respectable woman. Ladies may think that by giving the percentage asked to a broker they will secure the goods required at a small commission ; but it should be borne in mind that when a percentage is given it is the interest of the broker to run up the price as high as possible, as he receives pro rata on the amount paid, and the commission on Lio is double that of L 5. A case recently occurred at one of the London Police Courts in which this system was exposed, and one of the counsel engaged in the case stated it was fortunate that it bad been made the subject of a magisterial inquiry, for now the public would know that when they entered an auction room, for the purpose of making purchases, they would have to beware of a regular gang who dubbed themselves “ commission agents,” and who, when one of them was engaged to make a purchase ran up the price for the purpose of increasing the amount of the commission. In this case the defendant, finding that a “ ring” had been formed to run up the price, cautioned a lady who had given a commission, and the result was a disturbance. It is not surprising that the magistrate said that the disclosures made were discreditable to both sides. Nor is the system of giving commissions the only evil of auctions. It is notorious that a nefarious conspiracy known as “ the knock out” extensively prevails not only among furniture brokers but booksellers and others. The members of a knock out, who possibly may comprise all the booksellers present, agree beforehand not to bid against each other, although, for the sake of appearances, the lots are bought by various members of the party ; they are thus obtained at a ridiculoutly low price. Should, however, an outsider or private individual bid for a lot, he is made to pay the full value, or even more, or lose the article. The members of the knock out usually adjourn to a public-house, and re-sell the articles amongst themselves, when they often realise four or five times the amount paid for them at the original sale, thus producing a large sum, which is divided amongst the members of the confederation. Amongst men of the class that constitute the commission agents and the members of a “ knock out,” ladies have no place.— Queen.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 519, 27 December 1881

Word Count

LADIES AT AUCTIONS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 519, 27 December 1881