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Emma Bailey was the first woman auctioneer in the United States (and possibly the world) beginning her career on May 12, 1950, by selling a 50-year-old rocking chair for $2.50. She held regular auctions for nearly 20 years in Brattleboro, Vermont.

It was not always easy for Emma who was suddenly competing with the white/male auctioneers who at that time had not even conceived of a woman, Black, Hispanic, gay, or any other … other than people of their exact race, color and sex were auctioneers or otherwise in the auction business.

Some auctioneers still think it’s the 1950’s or choose to have a 1950’s mindset. Here’s a self-test to see if you are more-or-less living in the 1950s: To take this quiz, begin each question with “Do you think …”

  • All auctioneers should be white males? (yes=0, no=10)
  • All auctioneers should be Christians (yes=0, no=10)
  • All auctioneers should be heterosexual (yes=0, no=10)
  • It’s great there are women auctioneers? (yes=10, no=0)
  • It’s great there are Black auctioneers? (yes=10, no=0)
  • It’s great there are Hispanic auctioneers? (yes=10, no=0)
  • It’s great there are Gay and Lesbian auctioneers? (yes=10, no=0)

How did you do? If you scored 70 then maybe you are living in the present (70 +/- years beyond the 1950s) However, if your score is less than 70 then you aren’t living in the present. If your score was 0, you are clearly living in the 1950s.

Unfortunately some auctioneers actually confirm they think it’s more-so the 1950’s in that they believe racial slurs, sexual discrimination, harassment, hate speech and the like are all okay here in 2021 … as if they were okay in the 1950s, but today? https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/02/09/auctioneers-speech-restricted/.

Further, if you’re “mentally living” in the 1950s, I note you probably don’t comprehend today’s art, political climate, technology, clothing, hairstyles, social media, affirmative action, other (or the lack of devotion to) religions, other races, other colors, other ethnicities, other languages, other lifestyles, other … anything … in concluding that today shouldn’t be any different than the 1950s.

In fact, I heard a well-known attorney on a local call-in AM radio show in the 14th largest city in the United States recently suggest we would be a better country if we were more like the 1950s (and 1960s) in his words, “making America great again.” I have an idea, but I’m not exactly sure what “making America great again” means, but does it mean we pretend it’s the 1950’s again? What else could it mean?

It’s perfectly fine — to an extent — to live in the 1950s here in 2021, but don’t expect your likes/dislikes to align with those of us living in 2021. Those living in the “current” welcome diversity and inclusivity, enjoy new versions of art and music, appreciate science, and embrace simple and easy, and use and appreciate technology as if we were born with it.

For that matter, pick any decade, or year, or the day you wish and enjoy life. However, living in the current requires constant change as the world is always changing. What do they say? “The only constant in life is change?” Such requires first an open mind to new things and new concepts if you’re going to keep up.

It seems auctioneers should always be looking to adapt to constant change — and many have (in their businesses) — moving from live auctions to online auctions to … whatever is next. Many also are embracing a variety of payment methods, various bidder language accommodations, warranties, shipping, return policies, and even buy-it-now formats.

What’s the auction business going to be like in the coming years? What’s life going to be like in the coming years? We can reminisce about years gone by, but it seems living in the present is best suited for someone in business serving others’ interests, and maybe necessary to be a better fellow citizen.

If you’re still having difficulty with this issue, here’s a video from Air Force General Jay Silveria which may help you see the light … and if you think discrimination doesn’t happen anymore then our survey on that issue may be enlightening: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/06/28/auctioneers-discrimination-google/.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.