To best illustrate these claims I will draw evidence from an article written in the July 1961 NAA Auctioneer magazine (Vol. XII No. 7) by Col. Tim Anspatch from Albany, NY titled "Personality of Auctioneer Is the Key to His Success."
Tim begins his article reminiscing about the days of going with his father to local and regional farm Auctions in Iowa sixty years earlier (Circa 1901). From a child's point of view, he called those events "entertaining."
First Tim describes a typical C-1900 Farm Auction in Iowa. These Auctions were conducted around the first of March when farm rental contracts were up and assets needed to be liquidated. These auctions were labeled "Close Out" sales.
According to Mr. Anspatch, " We generally arrived at the sale around 9:30 in the morning before the crowd arrived , to get a good quiet look at the stock and items that Dad was interested in bidding on. When the weather was cold a big fire was started away from the buildings to keep the people comfortable and warm. A large pile of broken fence rails supplied the fuel.
A farm sale in those days created neighborly visiting, besides being a good place to trade horses and discuss problems in the community, it was peaceful and a great day for the farmer and his spouse.
Free coffee and milk were served, large clothes baskets and wash tubs were packed with sandwiches, generally bologna and buns. Also, a few barrels of eating apples were supplied. At noon the few chosen bidders, Auctioneers, clerks, banker and guests were invited to the farm table for chicken, biscuits, potatoes and gravy plus all the trimmings."
Anspatch continued in his article to explain that there were three different Auctioneers that operated in the region. First, he generalized about their "make up," or habits and appearances of the Auctioneers before writing about the differences among them.
"The jewelry adornment was very much alike each to the other in those golden days, with real large heavy watch chains, large finger rings, watch fobs of various lodge orders, and always as many gold teeth as the county dentist could sell. Black clothes adorned these gentlemen and white shirts with celluloid collars and celluloid cuffs, big old fashioned cuff buttons and black stiff hats. All carried a cane as most of our Auctioneers do today when selling Farm Auctions."
To complete the picture, the article reveals "Most of these colonels used either chewing or smoking tobacco." Evidently, burley tobacco was raised for home consumption, was grown on the hillside of the farm and was an acceptable habit at the time.
The first Auctioneer profiled in the article was that of "Colonel Dick Mick" who owned the opera house and local hardware store. "Dick liked to chew tobacco. He could chew a cud the size of a black walnut and chant his sale at the same time. He was never known to leave evidence of a spot on his white shirt." Dick wore a cutaway black coat and carried a gold headed cane. "Colonel Mick held the respect of the townsmen comparable to the Preacher. He was rated less then an average Auctioneer, but an honest one."
The second Auctioneer profiled in the article arrived in the region as a traveling Auctioneer that sold nursery stock, married a local woman settled into farming. He surprised the community when he opted out of farming and Auctioned his own farm and contents. He went on to conduct some small farm and household Auctions in the region. He was a favorite of the ladies as he was very entertaining. Some felt going to his auction was "better then going to the circus." According to Anspatch, "He dressed for the part with his flashy red vest with large gaudy watch chain strung along the lower pockets. He cocked his hat on an angle not unlike a vaudeville actor. He held the faculty to keep his audience spellbound." Overall, he had below average success in the community as many of the rural residents did not like the show off antics.
Tim profiled the third Auctioneer, "Apparently the most successful of these country Colonels and the one that had the most sales in the county owned and operated a good sized farm. He dealt in butcher stock - hogs and cattle. His mark of character, among other braggart and boasts, was to own and drive a span (pair) of matched trotting horses hitched to a flashy painted road wagon or buckboard and bet he could beat any team he met on the road for fun, money or marbles." He liked to gamble and would bet on any event.
"He was a young slob, heavy set, 5' 8", weighed around 300 pounds and had blonde hair and brown eyes. His hands were as big as hams with short stubby fingers. Huge beads of sweat would drop from his face as he chanted bids. At almost any of his sales he was accused of dropping a bargain to his own account but because of his size, bluff and uncouth manner he seemed to get away with it."
In the summer time when Auction sales were slow locally, he was known to travel out west and invest in carloads of range horses (broncos) to auction to "farmers, mail men, and country lads." After the auction he was known to stand up on the stock yard fence and announce, "If anybody who has bought any of these horses here today think they have been cheated write to me at home and I will send you a long letter expressing my sympathy and condolence."
In a time predating sound systems, he was known to have a voice like a bull. "His personality got him sales."
Tim Anspatch ends his article with the following paragraph, "If you wish to be an Auctioneer in your own right, never underestimate class... Class is made up of the following: Personality, Popularity, Humor, Showmanship, a Genuine Smile, and that rare magnetic warmth and determination coupled with untiring work. There is very little else to make us click except the opportunity to display our prowess."
Today, personality has a lot to do with our success as Auctioneers. My advice would be to enthusiastically and honestly approach your clients to ascertain their needs and circumstances and after analysis and careful consideration, fearlessly provide your services for a successful solution. The Auction Method of Marketing works as well today as it did for Colonel Dick Mick and his peers in 1901.