Long the preferred method of exchange for antiques and horseflesh, auctions are used today to sell everything from bestselling books to real estate, government bonds to abandoned automobiles. As sociologist Charles Smith reveals, the mechanical law of supply and demand rarely governs the auction process. Rather value is determined by a complex social process combining both the beliefs and actions of the auction participants and the assumptions and practices on the auction floor. Based on years of participation in and observation of different types of auctions and interviews with hundreds of auctioneers, Smith gives us not only a theoretical understanding of the auction process but the sights and sounds as well.
Charles W. Smith is Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Faculty, City University of New York, and author of The Mind of the Market.
"From fish to fine art, this book covers the auction business in broad scope and fascinating detail. Must reading for everyone interested in the workings of the marketplace."—William J. Doyle, William Doyle Galleries
"Smith not only turns up many aspects of auctioneering which the ordinary person is likely to know little about, but also shows that auctions provide insights into many other more 'orthodox' forms of market transactions. "—Anthony Giddens, Cambridge University
"An informed and insightful analysis of the dynamics of the auction market; will be of immense interest to the interested amateur and seasoned professional alike."—Wendell Garrett, Editor, Antiques Magazine
"Auctions is a masterpiece of institutional analysis. The combination of thick description and lucid analysis in this book is superb. Erving Goffman would have liked it."—Lewis A. Coser, SUNY at Stony Brook