Going, going, gone! Trace the history of houses & ancestors with Auction Catalogues
13th March, 2018

Whilst the majority of our archive contains title deeds, we do hold other property related documents. Auction catalogues, including posters advertising auctions, can be a valuable source for genealogists and house historians. They are also useful to social historians who are interested in researching the house prices of a particular area and period.

Usually a booklet, many auction catalogues can be opened out to reveal an attractive poster advertising the date and location of the auction, as well as the addresses, tenure and expected rents per annum of the lots for sale.

Inside the catalogue there is usually a list of lot numbers with addresses. Some lots may have a property description rather than just an address, detailing the size of the plot and whether the property is a public building, dwelling house or a plot of land. Other catalogues may list the names of the Leaseholders and the respective rent per annum if it is the Freehold being sold. If the catalogue covers a large amount of properties then a labelled colour plan may be included.

Auction catalogues usually contain the conditions of sale, which may include information on the deposit required, relevant property deeds and what would happen if there had been a clerical error in the catalogue. There may also be a promise to deliver of an abstract of title within so many days of the sale, to confirm that the seller is the rightful owner of the land.

The document usually ends with a typed agreement with certain information added in by hand. Agreements contain the name of the Vendor and perhaps their address, the name of the purchaser, final sale price, amount deposited and the date and signature of the Vendor’s Agents. If an Abstract of Title has been referred to in the Conditions of Sale then the name and address of the person the Abstract of Title is to be sent to will also be included.

Whilst there is no set format for an auction catalogue, the possibilities of what they could contain make them an exciting document to read through. Even if they do not provide you with the specific information you’re looking for, they’re a pretty document to add to any house history collection!

We’ve added some auction catalogues to our website this month, so use our person search and property search to see if you can discover the previous owners and occupiers of your house or discover the house your ancestors lived in.