Jay Allen, Auctioneer

RARE Auction Group
1860 Lone Oak Road
Paducah, KY 42003
     (800) 307-SOLD (307-7653)  

RARE Auction Group
Jay Allen, Auctioneer

(270) 564-2725  |  Jay@PaducahAuction.com

Robert Alexander Real Estate & Auction Co.

Robert Alexander, Principal Auctioneer


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The following is a history of auctions from the National Auctioneers Association.

Auctions Come to America
American auctions date back to the Pilgrims' arrival on America's Eastern Shores in the 1600s and continued in popularity during colonization with the sale of crops, imports, clapboard, livestock, tools, tobacco, slaves and even entire farms. Selling at auction was the fastest and most efficient means to convert assets into cash.

Fur was especially big during this time. In his book, "Going, Going, Gone!," Bellamy Partridge says "the Bible and the beaver were the mainstays of the Pilgrims, the Good Book saving their souls and the beaver paying their bills."

Initially, the furs were collected from Native Americans in the fall and winter, utilizing the "private treaty" method of exchange for "wampum" (the Native American word which meant money). The raw pelts (or hides) were transported to the closest shipping port. In the spring of each year, the auction method was used to sell the raw peltries to the European merchants who arranged the transcontinental voyage to the Old World. Once the ships returned to the port in Europe, the peltries were auctioned to manufacturers, who would process them for the retail market. The early fur trade was chiefly responsible for the settlement and development of North America.

Civil War Era
Have you ever heard an auctioneer referred to as "Colonel?" It's a fairly common practice, especially at auction schools across the country. This came about during the Civil War era, a time when auctions were beginning to flourish.

History has it that the art of auctioneering was a common practice for Civil War Colonels who regularly auctioned off the spoils of war and surplus. However, only officers of the Colonel rank could conduct them, spawning the use of the term "Colonel" by many auctioneers still today.

A short historical narrative from one of the top auction schools details this process: "As the Civil War progressed, many troop battalions made a practice of seizing property of land owners and merchants as they marched. Contraband would be collected and carried to a favorable area, then the Colonel or commanding officer would sell the goods at public sale. Even after the Civil War, military Colonels traveled to sell surplus goods and seized goods. Auctioneers followed some of the same trails and dressed similar to army Colonels to such an extent that the public began to recognize auctioneers as “Colonel.”

Other Names for Auctioneers
Colonel is only one name that auctioneers have been identified with over the years. Other names include "Knights of the Hammer," and "Brothers"." The tools of these auctioneers included the Colonel style hat, a cane, bell, hammer or gavel, and a red flag. The flag, often boasting advertising, was placed above where the auctioneer would sell on the day of the auction.

Opening of Auctions Schools
Many auction schools started in the early 1900s in America. The Jones' National School of Auctioneering and Oratory was believed to be the first. It was started by auctioneer Carey M. Jones in Davenport, Iowa. For the first term, the school promoted "competent instructors teaching general merchandise, real estate and fine stock auctioneering." However, many auctioneers at that time did not believe an auctioneer could be "trained." They believed that auctioneering was a natural ability that you were born with.

Challenges for Auctioneers
Though finding goods to sell was not a problem in those days, auctioneers faced other challenges. There was no amplification system for their voices and no microphones as we know them today. So they had trouble both being heard, and keeping their voices intact.

Because travel was more difficult, and was mostly by horse and wagon, auctioneers enticed crowds by routinely offering lunch to those who came to the sale. Weather often dictated the time the auction started, as all were held outdoors.

The Great Depression
The growth of the auction industry remained until the Great Depression of 1929. Some auctioneers traveled the country to liquidate the estates of farmers whose farms had failed because of drought and bank foreclosures. The decline of the auction method of marketing followed the poor economic climate and did not rebound until after World War II.

The 1950s
Auctioneering began to make great strides after World War II. The sale of goods and real estate was booming. There was a need in certain cases to move real estate and personal property faster than the private market would allow. Thus, the modern day auction business was born. Auctioneers were now businessmen who dressed in suits and ties. They began to nurture the business and raise the reputation of auctioneers. Besides the public, auctioneers began to have links to banks, attorneys, accountants, the court system and government agencies.

The 1990s through Today
During the 1990s, technology was finding its way into the auction business. Auctioneers were using computers, fax machines, cell phones and other technology to make their businesses run faster and more smoothly. Some auctioneers began taking photographs of small auction items and projecting them onto big screens so the crowds could get a closer look at the merchandise.

Auctions burst into cyberspace in the middle of the decade. The ever flourishing eBay was launched in 1995 and would go on to become an "online leader" in the bidding business.

Many auctioneers today offer both live and online auctions to meet the needs of customers near and far. Technology allows buyers to participate in the sale without even being there.

he Robert Alexander Real Estate Auction is an accelerated method of marketing all types of fine and RARE properties from farm, industrial and commercial to homes, villas, lakefront and luxury properties. Twenty years of constantly evolving from cutting edge to state-of-the-art. During this time Robert Alexander/RARE Auction Group has provided services to estates, individuals, corporations, Local, Federal and State Governments, and the leading financial institutions with unparalleled success. We invite your closet scrutiny. We are proud of our history and we will provide references, testimonials and a complete illustrated proposal with details of all aspects of your auction. We feel you’ll discover a RARE Auction in your near future - sold the day you want it - sold at true market value.

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