Proposal preview

Auctions and their historical contexts around the globe since 1700

Auctions have been used around the globe since time immemorial to trade a great variety of goods. They always existed alongside “regular” trade, though, and marked differences existed across time and space in the goods that were auctioned and the auction mechanisms that were applied for this. The auctions literature, however, has so far paid little attention to the historical contexts that determined these differences. The reasons for applying existing auction mechanisms to new goods, copying mechanisms from elsewhere, or even developing new ones therefore remain poorly understood. The same holds for the role governments played in this and for how open and transparent auctions subsequently were for the common public. To solve this lacuna this session takes a global, comparative approach to determine how historical contexts determined the use and performance of auctions since 1700. It brings together economic historians and economists working on a broad range of products, regions, time periods, and auction mechanisms. The scholars listed below have already committed to the session, which will be completed through a call for papers (e.g. through when accepted.

Anne Wegener Sleeswijk (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

1. Anne Wegener Sleeswijk (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), ‘Ship auctions in Bordeaux and Amsterdam in the eighteenth century: A comparison of auction formats’.
2. Kristina Lilja (Uppsala University) and Pernilla Jonsson (Stockholm University), ‘Auctions and credits: Commodities as store of value and medium of exchange on a developing market, Sweden 1820-1900’.
3. Christiaan van Bochove (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Lars Boerner (London School of Economics), ‘Auctions and Bidding Behavior on Financial Markets in Eighteenth Century Amsterdam’.
4. Jose-Antonio Espin-Sanchez (Yale University), ‘Efficiency and Revenue Maximizing in Sequential Water Auctions in 19th-Century Lorca’.
5. Michael Aldous (Queen’s University Belfast), ‘The role of auctions in England’s nineteenth-century commodity trade with India and the United States’.
6. Bernardo Wjuniski (London School of Economics), ‘Guiding the Invisible Hand: Auctions Design and Multiple Exchange Rates in Brazil, 1953-1961’.
7. Simon Ville (University of Wollongong), ‘The ascendancy of the centralised auction system in the international wool trade, 1850-1939’.


  • Christiaan van Bochove, Radboud University Nijmegen,,
  • Lars Boerner, London School of Economics,,
  • Kristina Lilja, Uppsala University,,

Session members

  • Anne Wegener Sleeswijk, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne,
  • Kristina Lilja, Uppsala University,
  • Pernilla Jonsson, Stockholm University,
  • Christiaan van Bochove, Radboud University Nijmegen,
  • Lars Boerner, London School of Economics,
  • Jose-Antonio Espin-Sanchez, Yale University,
  • Michael Aldous , Queen's University Belfast,
  • Bernardo Wjuniski, London School of Economics,
  • Simon Ville, University of Wollongong,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Saumitra Jha, Stanford University,