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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edward Stephenson, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0193. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The qualities of a good auctioneer

Stephenson describes the attributes of a good auctioneer: one who is confident, energetic, sensitive to the flow of the auction, and adept at maintaining momentum.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edward Stephenson, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0193. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Well, you say, the better you can do it, what makes a good auctioneer?
EDWARD STEPHENSON:
A lot of things. Most auctioneers, I don't know how many you've Interviewed, but most (if not all of them) I'm going to venture to say, that all of them think they're the best. I think 90% of auctioneering is the nerve to do it.. Or maybe 75% anyway. But you've got to be able to carry a sale. –When I say carry a sale I mean start it. Anyone can sell a row, like we did today, a row up and down. But a good auctioneer will have to sell four top five hundred thousand pounds a day. When all the hoopla's gone after the first two rows, and all the media is gone and the sales and you're into the "meat" of the sale an auctioneer has to go on and carry sale to the last row. Not two rows, but 30 rows.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Describe what you mean when you say, "carry the sale."
EDWARD STEPHENSON:
You have to keep it going, you have to keep the buyer s attentive. You have to pay attention to the buyers and catch their bids and you have to keep the flow going. You cain't sell one and stop, like selling cars, you know? Or at an estate auction, you sell this table and then say, Ok, next item." Or cars, you sell a car and then, "next car." A tobacco auction, you sell a pile and just continues. A good auctioneer starts at one end of the row and never stops until he gets to the other end of the row and turns and comes back. He don't stop and go, you keep going. You keep the flow of the sale going. And, in turn, the buyers have to be on their toes, looking at this pile and ready to sell the next pile. You have to keep good harmony with them. Keep everybody happy. To the best of your ability, keep everybody in a good mood. And keep everything going.