In the 19th century, wife selling was an easy way of getting a ‘quickie’ divorce in London. Most of the auctions took place in local markets in and around the city, and all the husband had to do was pay a small fee for a licence to sell his wife. The wife then wore a collar and a lead in order to ‘blend in’ with the sale of livestock and, like cattle, some wives were even sold by weight (most of the ladies would’ve gone for a heft sum!).
But generally, the wife knew who was going to buy her…it was just a more ‘official’ way to for her to marry her lover.
You would hope the lover was able to offer a good price and was not out-auctioned or things could’ve got a bit sticky…..
Dawn Denton ©
Image source: www.calectasia.com