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In the United States, many of the oldest auction firms are located in cities on the East Coast. For instance, Christie's in New York City is famous for auctioning luxury items such as fine art and celebrity memorabilia. Auctions have also long been popular in rural areas. Prior to the development of department stores, rural families had their own methods of dispensing with and acquiring the items and machinery they needed. For small or individual items, a barter or trade sometimes was made to exchange a needed tool or other possession. When many different items were being sold, however, a family would hold an auction, and an auctioneer would be hired to assist the family in disposing of the property. Families sometimes held auctions to raise cash or because they were moving and could not take along all their possessions.

Auctions are a popular way to buy farm equipment, real estate, artwork, livestock, or personal property from estates. An auction disposes of many varied items fairly quickly by selling one item to the highest bidder and then immediately moving through the rest of the collection. Auctions also are a popular way to raise money for charities and other groups. They are fun as well as functional and have become increasingly common in both rural areas and cities.

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