RULES FOR AN EMERGENT MARKET: Selling paintings in late seventeenth-century London
Conditions of sale were a feature of the Roman auction, and probably published along with the written public announcement, the proscriptio , that preceded a sale. When such conditions appeared on the front pages of printed sale catalogues for paintings, prints and drawings in late seventeenth-century London, then, this was nothing new; but the rules themselves were almost certainly modified to fit the circumstances then prevailing. Here I wish to examine those rules and explore the rationale for either modifying traditional elements among them or introducing some for - it seems - the first time. I will also use the exploration as an occasion to conduct two additional probes. One of these will be into the likely level and structure of prices in these early London sales, the inquiry into structure revealing that many sales were two-in-one, appealing to dual audiences. The other probe will show that the market was also segmented by quality and location, which must have restricted the possibilities for immediate profitable resale and thus the likelihood that individuals' bids were influenced by those of others.
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