‘Boeldag’ is a word used in the northern Netherlands for a public auction. If a person decided to sell some or all of his assets, a ‘boeldag’ would be organised with the assistance of a notary.

All the items and the livestock were divided up into lots. The notary would place an announcement in the regional newspapers indicating the location, date and time of the auction. This would also list the items to be sold.

Public auctions would attract large numbers of people. Some would come to buy, while others would simply come for a day out. As crowds of people were expected, you would also find musicians, fairground-style attractions and stalls selling coffee or alcohol at an auction. Sometimes this would get out of hand, which is why many auction announcements contained statements such as: ‘pedlars and street traders will not be admitted’.

During the auction the notary served as the auctioneer. Visitors would bid for the lots, which would go to the highest bidder.