Auctions are, quintessentially, a marketplace. It's a very simple form of commerce where buyers and sellers come together. The Seller has a forum to move his goods, and the Buyer has a place to purchase those goods. Auctions move across cultures and countries because they are simple, easily understood, entertaining, and profitable for both the buyer and seller. In this day of Ebay and other online auctions, I would rather go to a traditional auction, while I still acknowledge the benefits of the newer varieties simply because of the human interaction.
In a traditional auction, we find certain set-pieces. First the venue, which might be a storefront, or a front yard. Then the seller, who might be front and center, or might be anonymous. Then the Auctioneer who is always front and center. It is the Auctioneer's job to control the auction and to get the highest price possible for the goods. In most cases, the Auctioneer does not own the product, but is only an agent for the sale. The best Auctioneers are entertainers, jovial, friendly, and know how to work a crowd. Last but not least, we have the Boyer. It's the Buyer's money that the Seller wants and it's the Auctioneer's job to get the best price possible. It's the Buyer's job to get the product for the least amount possible.
In a pure marketplace, an item is only worth what a Buyer is willing to pay, and it's the Auctioneer's job to find that number. That's where the human drama unfolds.
You see all types at an auction. Rich and poor, educated and uneducated, of all economic classes. Everyone is equal at an auction. It's all based on what you're willing to pay. For example, I remember a recent auction where a simple, aluminum pitcher was available; one of many items to be traded that night, and a smalll bidding war erupted over that simple item.
Two buyers. One was a local dealer, looking for scrap aluminum, the other a regular fellow who liked the pitcher because it was one like his grandmother had owned, many years ago. The dealer knew what it was worth, having bought and sold much aluminum over his career and the regular fellow who knew what it was worth as a senimental object, and knew what he was willing to give for it. The Auctioneer, trying to get the best price, let the bidding roll incrementally. The aluminum dealer bidded in tiny amounts, and the sentimental fellow always topped him. Finally, it went to the sentimental fellow because he was willing to pay more than the scrap dealer.
Young and old, rich and poor, credentialed and common, you'll find all types at an auction. Everyone is looking for a deal. It's great entertainment, it's an ancient form of commerce, and it's generally free to the public. If you're find yourself bored this weekend, go to AuctionZip.com and find a local auction. It doesn't cost anything to watch, but put a little jingle in your pocket. You never know what you might find on the tables, and you're guaranteed to have a good time.