Eighteenth-century men and women in British North America loved a bargain, but how did they know what a bargain was? Where did they get information about comparative prices and how did they judge those prices? The link between the price of an object and its value was a significant cultural problem in the eighteenth century, and one that both political economists and lawmakers grappled with. For most residents, it was at local auctions -- estate auctions, sheriffs’ sales, and discount vendues -- that bidders, sellers, and observers created a body of knowledge that established a link between price and value. Auctions embodied the social construction of prices, but the processes of gathering and advertising stock, previewing and bidding on goods, and judging the fairness of the outcome, created an understanding that prices could be tested against principles.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 749-773
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.