50 cents I ’m bid–Auctioneer Clayton Hands



Thomas Rutherford Clayton Hands ( Nov. 2, 1915 – Sept. 7, 1980) pursued a career in auctioneering. He established a livelihood in 1938. For 40 years Clayton called square dances and conducted auctions as well. During that time frame he married wife Reta and they had seven children (2 boys & 5 girls).

Reta was very busy looking after their children, phones and farm chores. When it came to auctioneering, Clayton had a strong voice that carried well outdoors as well as in buildings. He also possessed wit, charm and a personality that controlled large crowds. He acquired strengths in salesmanship and in the knowledge of articles and their values. He sold everything and anything – household effects, farm machinery, livestock, real estate, tools of the trades and so on.

On June 28, 1954, a documentary film “The Country Auctioneer” produced by the National Film Board, depicted Clayton Hands, a Canadian, in this interesting and important job.


Almonte Gazette-1954-Read the Gazette online here

NOVEL AUCTION SALE WILL BE STAGED HERE –It will be “50 cents I ’m bid, a dollar can I get” at the Almonte Community Centre on Friday evening, June 4th, when Clayton Hands gets going at the giant auction sale. The sale, as advertised elsewhere in this issue, is the first of its kind in Almonte and-is being held under the joint auspices of the Alexandra Club and the A lmonte Lions, in aid of the Dr. James Naismith Memorial Hospital Fund. According to report, these is a large and wonderful collection of furniture and furnishings which will go under the auctioneer’s hammer. Mr. Hands has generously donated his time and services | as auctioneer for this event and Mr. O. A. McPhail is also giving -his services gratis as clerk.

Almonte Gazette 1954-Read the Gazette online hereThe auction sale of second hand articles Hands had been dealing with was held in the Almonte Community Centre under auspices of the Alexandra and Lions Clubs on Friday night, in aid of the Naismith Memorial Hospital fund, drew a fairly large crowd and proved a success financially. Net proceeds amounted to $653.15, Mr. Clayton Hands of Perth acted as auctioneer for the occasion and he did a fine job.

Mr. Hands had conducted a similar sale in his home town in aid of the hospital there so he had the benefit of experience in this particular line He donated his services when approached by the President of the Alexandra Club some weeks ago, which was a generous gesture because the hospital here is not in Mr. Hands’ area.

There was a great deal of labor and time spent on arranging and organizing the sale. Persons living in town and th e surrounding rural district had to be canvassed for donations and articles contributed had to be conveyed to the rink over a period of several days. On the night of the sale there was an imposing array stacked along two sides and one end of the large building. There was almost everything conceivable from household equipment to small garden and farm machines. There were books, furniture, pictures, garden hose, lawn mowers, oil stoves, kitchen utensils, a well preserved organ that would play and had a walnut case, bird cages, drapes, and one utensil which used to be found in every bedroom, this one ornamented with a red ribbon tied in a bow around the handle.

In short, as auction sale bills often say—“and many other articles too numerous to mention.” The auctioneer started the sale sharp at eight o’clock and it did not end until around 12.30. During that time he -talked faster than most people could think and his clerk. Mr. O. A. McPhail, scribbled down the names of buyers and prices paid with the celerity of experience as only a man who knew nearly everyone in the crowd could do. He also donated his services free of charge and is deserving of thanks from the two Clubs which sponsored the sale and all well wishers of the hospital project.

The auctioneer started out at one end of the rink where the crowd gathered and, as he disposed of the stuff stacked along the wall there for some thirty feet, he would move along to another section. He followed this procedure until he finished the entrance end of the big arena, then went out to the centre where some large articles were stacked and some fine pictures were offered which had been painted by local artists and most of which had a reserve bid attached for protection.

After that he finished the other side of the rink and called it a night’—in reality, it was another day!  Mr. Hands is a witty, good natured man and he heeded all of it to keep things going on Friday night. This was the first sale of its kind held in Almonte and there were quite a few people who did not seem to understand that the object of the effort was charity, not to drive sharp bargains with the idea of getting something cheap that would be of great use.

Many of the articles sold—in fact most of them—were useful and quite a few of them with- some small defect could be repaired when purchased by a handy man or woman.  It is an obvious help at a sale of this kind if the auctioneer can look out over the upturned faces and call most of them by name. In that way he can work up a closer bond of union and can take liberties which creates fun that he would hesitate to risk when he doesn’t know the individuals. A fast worker as it was, he unloaded some articles on those he did know who couldn’t remember having given him a bid or even nodding their heads. Some women who were gossiping in the crowd and emphasizing what they said with gestures were caught in this way and paid cheerfully for some trifling article.

One local man who was a great prohibition worker in this community had two butter crocks unloaded onto him, the auctioneer who knew him for years remarking “So and so was never known to turn down a crock.” There were some quaint articles among the great array piled along the walls. One was a turnip seeder which was brought out from Ireland over a century ago. The frame and wheel were made of wood, the wheel being cut out of a solid plank. There were handles on the machine like a hand cultivator and a container for the seed which led down into a spout that routed out a furrow as the contraption was shoved along. It is presumed the pressure put on the spout opened a valve and let the seed run down. Many people got good bargains at the sale.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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