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The Beaver, Vol. I, No. 4, January 1921 by Company

Musquash and raccoon offered for sale


_The Order of the Sale_

At one time the order of selling was rather haphazard, but in recent years the sale arrangements have been revised and co-ordinated. Catalogues are now divided into definite sections, and the entire market supply of furs contained in section 1 of the various catalogues is offered for sale before section 2 is dealt with, and so on--the brokers balloting among themselves for precedence. In accordance with long-established custom, the first goods to be put up for sale are those coming from China and the far east (these auctions are referred to as the "China sales"); next comes the catalogues of Australian furs, followed immediately by any offerings there may be of fur seals.

_H.B.C. Auction Premier Attraction_

Although these auctions occupy the whole of the first sale week, they are of secondary importance when compared with the sales of the choicer North American and Siberian furs, which commence on the Monday of the second week with the Hudson's Bay Company's sale. Needless to say, the Company's auction always proves the greatest attraction of the whole series and never fails to draw a crowded room. The Company's catalogue is the only one now sold in its entirety without a break, and this for the very good reason that it provides the most reliable basis for comparison of values and enables the experienced buyer to appraise market fluctuations with confidence.

style="text-align: justify;">The rest of the week following the Company's sale is taken up with the disposal of "fine" furs (such as beaver, ermine, foxes, marten, otter and sables) from other catalogues; the third week sees the "staple" lines (such as skunk, opossum, musquash and raccoon) offered for sale; and in the fourth and final week sundry South American and lower grade skins are offered.

_The Flexible Eyebrow An Aid in Bidding_

The method of bidding at the fur auction is by what is known as the "silent" system. The auctioneer usually starts the bidding himself at a moderate figure and the buyers interested signify their bids by various methods--such as by a nod, or a wink, or even a flick of the pencil; sometimes indeed a buyer will merely look at the auctioneer whilst the bids are being taken and only remove his gaze when his limit has been exceeded. It is often amusing to notice the tactics adopted by two bidders, each of whom wants a particular lot: one may perhaps be seated in the front row and he will perhaps bid by _raising his eyebrows_; the other (seated further back) will not look at the broker at all but will narrowly _watch his rival's hat_ (the movement of which betrays the bidding) whilst he records his own bids by _moving his little finger_!

As a rule, bids advance by a definite amount, which varies with the value of the article in question: bids for beaver skins, for example, may start at 50s. and advance by 2s. steps to 100s., beyond which the advance is by 5s. steps; in the case of musquash an advance of 3d or 6d per bid is sufficient. When demand is keen and bidding brisk, buyers frequently discard the silent method, and the broker is assailed with a chorus of "up! up!" from all parts of the room. As it is often difficult in such cases to distinguish between bidders, the possession of a good pair of lungs is a decided advantage for a buyer.


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