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According to Herodotus, in Babylon auctions of women for marriage were held annually.

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Later slaves, often captured as the "spoils of war", were auctioned in the forum under the sign of the spear, with the proceeds of sale going towards the war effort.

One of the most significant historical auctions occurred in the year 193 A. when the entire Roman Empire was put on the auction block by the Praetorian Guard.

On March 23 The Praetorian Guard first killed emperor Pertinax, then offered the empire to the highest bidder.

Didius Julianus outbid everyone else for the price of 6,250 drachmas per guard, In a candle auction, the end of the auction was signaled by the expiration of a candle flame, which was intended to ensure that no one could know exactly when the auction would end and make a last-second bid.

Sometimes, other unpredictable processes, such as a footrace, were used in place of the expiration of a candle.

This type of auction was first mentioned in 1641 in the records of the House of Lords.

The practice rapidly became popular, and in 1660 Samuel Pepys's diary recorded two occasions when the Admiralty sold surplus ships "by an inch of candle".

Pepys also relates a hint from a highly successful bidder, who had observed that, just before expiring, a candle-wick always flares up slightly: on seeing this, he would shout his final - and winning - bid.

An auction is a process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder.

The open ascending price auction is arguably the most common form of auction in use today.

An auctioneer may announce prices, bidders may call out their bids themselves (or have a proxy call out a bid on their behalf), or bids may be submitted electronically with the highest current bid publicly displayed.