Between 1792 and 1827, the owners of Haus Hueth, a country house on the Lower Rhine near Emmerich, held a total of five auctions to divest themselves of both household goods such as furniture and textiles but also of collectibles like books. In 1795, they even auctioned off the wooden ... (Show more)
Between 1792 and 1827, the owners of Haus Hueth, a country house on the Lower Rhine near Emmerich, held a total of five auctions to divest themselves of both household goods such as furniture and textiles but also of collectibles like books. In 1795, they even auctioned off the wooden remains of the lime alley leading from the Rhine to the house that had been felled by the Imperial troops.
Regarding these auctions, rich archival material has survived: It includes the various auction protocols listing the goods, the prices reached as well as the names of the buyers and their places of origin. Furthermore, the archive contains probate inventories which list the contents of the house prior to auction as well correspondence between the steward who organised these auctions and the Borcke family, the owners of the house. Also, for some of these sales, advertisements were placed in the contemporary press and auction catalogues were published. Records from the estate that name tenants and other dependants provide the opportunity to trace individual buyers.
Thanks to these comprehensive records, this paper proposes a micro-historical study to reveal firstly the household strategies of the sellers and how these fluctuated between economic concerns and the wish to divest themselves of unfashionable goods. Secondly, this study illuminates the dissemination of formerly elite goods and considers how and how far the material culture of a country house spilled over into its surroundings. By juxtaposing the auction protocols, it can trace recurrent buyers and reveal some of their household strategies. Thirdly, by considering the “public” records concerning the auctions as well as the “private” correspondence, it will engage with the idea of the auction as both a social venue and a commercial circuit. (Show less)