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nixonsignLargely due to the Vietnam War, the United States Congress and President Lyndon Johnson worked for the passage of the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

That amendment granted voting rights to those 18 years or older, altering previous statutes that generally required someone to be 21 to vote.

On July 5, 1971, during the amendment’s signing ceremony in the East Room, President Richard Nixon talked about his confidence in the youth of America:

    “As I meet with this group today, I sense that we can have confidence that America’s new voters, America’s young generation, will provide what America needs as we approach our 200th birthday, not just strength and not just wealth but the “Spirit of ‘76’ a spirit of moral courage, a spirit of high idealism in which we believe in the American dream, but in which we realize that the American dream can never be fulfilled until every American has an equal chance to fulfill it in his own life.”

Primarily as a result of this Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, today almost all states now consider someone aged 18 to be an adult (and an age of majority), and those under the age of 18 to be minors (and an age of minority), for most acts.

For many, the words competent and incompetent are used in this regard, as someone is 18 or older is competent, and then someone younger is incompetent.

With this in mind, we ask “Can there be auctioneers younger than 18?”

As I’ve traveled the country to auctions all over the United States, I’ve certainly watched as auctioneer’s sons or daughters (under the age of 18) have been put behind the microphone to sell as the auctioneer.

As Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, I regularly hear stories from students about auctions at which they bid-called at age 5, 8, 13 … In fact, the National Auctioneers Association holds a contest for auctioneers under the age of 18 called the International Junior Auctioneer Championship (IJAC).

This goes a long way to answering our question posed here. Yes, there are absolutely auctioneers younger than 18 years of age.

However, we have these questions:

    1. What about the fact that, generally, someone must be at least 18 years old to enter into a valid contract?
    2. What about the fact that, generally, someone must be at least 18 years old to enter into a fiduciary position representing a client?
    3. What about in states which require auctioneers to be licensed (and at least 18 years old?)

It seems clear an auctioneer must enter into contracts with sellers in order to have the authority to sell those items, and an auctioneer is representing a seller as a client, thus having fiduciary responsibilities as we outlined here: What do auctioneers owe their clients?

Further, the act of bid-calling forms contracts between sellers and bidders (see Does bid calling form contracts?), and would likely require a person of legal competence (age of majority) to form those contracts.

I’m not suggesting at all that we should prohibit persons from acting as auctioneers in contests, or under the direct supervision of an auctioneer 18 years of age or older; however, I am suggesting care must be taken in this regard.

One unhappy seller or buyer, troubled with an item’s sale price, or the way an auction was conducted, would have an abundantly favorable case in court if the auctioneer he hired allowed someone under the age of 18 to work as the auctioneer.

Are there auctioneers younger than 18? Yes, there are.

Should the public be aware that their auction may be conducted by, and/or they may be represented by someone younger than 18 in a legal capacity? In those cases — yes, they should. Sellers have a right to be represented by competent adult auctioneers, and the buying public should have the right to have their offers tendered to a seller by competent adult auctioneers.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.