John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘A heck of a lot of profit’

Instead he bought his own cart and a retired pit pony called Spanker, for £20, and started to do flitting – moving people from house to house.

This led him to build up a stock of household furniture and other goods, much of it donated by people who were flitting and would let go a table, chair or washer because they were no longer wanted. All the items were stored at the back of his father’s house.

‘Of course my father came out one day and said: ‘If you don’t shift that lot then I’ll burn the blinking stuff.’ Well it was like a knife in my back, so I said I would take it down to Nottingham to the Cattle Market one Saturday morning and sell the lot.’

At that time, Jack Johnson sold pigs there and there was no interest in selling his household furnishings. Undeterred, he managed to rent a pig pen from the market superintendent for two shillings and sixpence.

He recalled: ‘I couldn’t believe the price so we argued and I finally paid it and took Spanker out of his harness and tied him up. He was happy, so I started selling and made two pounds 12 shillings and six pence. And I thought that was a heck of a lot of profit.’

The next week, he cleared more items and took £6. But it was the following week when word had got around and he got the biggest shock of all. Countless people turned up to use his space to sell beds, tables, chairs, sideboards, even gramophones, making him an incredible £62.


Buy the book, titled ‘An Auction of Laughs’, which is now available to order, priced £6 (£7 with postage) with all profits to be donated to the British Red Cross.

You can now order your copy of ‘An Auction of Laughs’ by John Pye by simply dropping a email to and we will happily arrange postage or via Waterstones (Nottingham)

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