Under the Hammer

Imported goods were auctioned off publicly at the Sydney wharves or in the home of the importer. With increased retail advertising in the Sydney Gazette after 1806, auction sales become the main outlet for furniture and household fittings rather than consumables.

A small case model of a Sydney streetscape (c. 1851) shows the façade of Lloyd’s Auction Rooms, at 474 George Street. Clearing sales were a common practice on arrival or departure, or when people died. This ensured a steady supply of recycled household articles for those who could not afford to import goods for themselves.

Online auction platform eBay (1996) has seen renewed interest in this form of retailing. With
93 million active users, and seven million new listings daily, the internet has opened up the auction business, allowing vendors to sell globally and offering a cheap entry point into the market
for a world of armchair bidders.