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Harper's Weekly, July 13, 1861

An Auction

Once they had arrived in the city of their destination, people were sold like merchandise to the highest bidder at indoor or open-air markets and auction houses. They were closely examined, often undressed and made to jump, open their mouths, and flex their muscles while poked to estimate their resistance and strength. The public auction is often seen as a symbol of the trade, but in reality most of the traders' buying and selling was done in private transactions with individual customers.

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