From this latter perspective, upstanding localbusinessmen were given the proverbial boot andreplaced by charismatic charlatans who preyed uponunsuspecting consumers who acted in a frenzy of competitive bidding. Personal service, honesty, stability,and local investment were said to be replaced by
doctrines whichallegedly punished the un-informed. An inadequate comparison today to the inherentstruggle between auction-houses and local merchants of yesterday would be the national, "big-box" discountstores versus the local "mom-and-pop" shops
though the local shops may have better service, reputation,or even goods, the volume merchants, with their extensive
supplies of low-priced goods, tend to drive out of business all those who cannot find a competitive niche.
In either century, small retailers simply had a difficult
time competing against the discount-priced, volume
retailers who offered a wide selection of low-priced goods.
Two rates of Duty were imposed by Section 1 uponitems sold by auction. The rate of Duty of twenty-fivecents for every hundred dollars of purchase money wasimposed upon "lands, tenements or hereditaments, andof any utensils in husbandry, and farming stock, shipsand vessels" sold by means of an auction.Duties of "one half of a dollar" on every hundreddollars of purchase money were laid on "all other goods,chattels, rights and credits whatsoever…except as hereinafter excepted".Since the purpose of the Duty (besides that of raising revenue, of course) was to help level the playing field between auction-houses and normal businessestablishments (to curtail that viewed as morally-dubious), auctions due to reasons of distress wereexempted.
stated the exception:
, That nothing in this actcontained shall extend to any sale or sales byauction, of estates, goods or effects, made pursuantto, or in execution of any rule, order, decree,sentence or judgment...made in virtue, or by force ofany distress for rent, or other cause, for which adistress is allowed by law;or made in consequenceof any bankruptcy or insolvency…or made inconsequence of any general assignment of propertyand effects, for the benefit of creditors."
Auctions held at the direction of executors oradministrators settling estates of deceased persons werelikewise exempted. Further exceptions were alsoprovided for items:
"made of the produce of the land, upon the landwhere such produce was raised;or made of anyfarming utensils, stock or household furniture, bypersons removing from the place of their formerresidence, where the amount of each sale of suchfarming utensils, stock or household furniture shallnot exceed two hundred dollars;or made pursuant tothe directions of any law of the United States, or ofeither of them, touching the collection of any tax orduty;or disposal by auction of public property of theUnited States or of any state;nor to any such sale orsales by auction, of ships, their tackle, apparel andfurniture, or the cargoes thereof, which shall bewrecked or stranded within the United States, andsold for the benefit of the insurers or proprietorsthereof."
Section 1 imposed the responsibility of payment of the Duties upon the Auctioneer, who was required to belicensed under Section 2 of the Act. Section 9 allowedthe Auctioneer a one percent commission "for histrouble" (this commission was the Auctioneer's handling fee for collecting the Duty; his fee for selling the itemsthemselves would be much higher). A few years later, the last of the domestically-oriented Duties of the eighteenth-century was enacted.
An Act laying Duties on stamped Vellum, Parchment and Paper
" (I Stat. 527), enacted on July 6, 1797, waspainfully reminiscent of the British Stamp Act of 1765.
of the 1797 Act imposed Stamp Duties,reading (in part):
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled
, That from and after the thirty-first day of December next, there shall be levied,collected and paid throughout the United States, theseveral stamp duties following, to wit:For every skinor piece of vellum, or parchment, or sheet or piece ofpaper upon which shall be written or printed any oreither of the instruments or writings following, to wit:any certificate of naturalization, five dollars:anylicense to practice or certificate of the admission,enrolment or registry of any counsellor, solicitor,
attorney, advocate or proctor in any court of the United
States, the sum of ten dollars;any grant or letters
patent under the seal or authority of the United States,
except for lands granted for military services, fourdollars;any exemplification or certified copy of anysuch grant or letters patent, two dollars;any charter-
party, bottomry, or respondentia bond, one dollar;any
receipt or other discharge for or on account of anylegacy left by any will or other testamentaryinstrument, or for any share or part of a personalestate divided by force of any statute of distribution,the amount whereof shall be above the value of fiftydollars, twenty-five cents…any policy of insurance orinstrument in nature thereof, whereby any ships,
B.O.L. Volume II:Issue 11:Page 21. Here discussing only the inherent competition, not insinuatingany defect in the personal integrity of the box-store owners ormanagers, nor does the comparison relate to the earlier salesmechanism (bidding auction-vs.-retail offering of goods for sale).