1 Wheeler v. Collier, Mood. & M. 125; Crowder v. Austin, 3 Bing. 368; Bowles v. Round, 5 Ves-. 508. See Latham v. Morrow, 6 B. Monr. 630; Thornett v. Haines, 15 M. & W. 371; post, § 548.
§ 668. If, however, either the owner of the goods sold by auction, or the auctioneer himself, be innocent of the fraud, for the seller. The buyer goes to the sale with this knowledge, that he shall not get the article under a price the seller thinks to be a reasonable price. There are several articles sold almost always by auction, that could not possibly be sold so, if the vendor was not allowed somebody to look after his interest. There are not above three or four purchasers of scarce and valuable books; they would divide them, if the person selling has not some means of guarding against that. I should be extremely glad to find any case that would draw into consideration what might be all the consequences of applying that philosophical doctrine, as I call it, to sales by auction. It goes no further in point of authority than when the purchaser declares off immediately." So, also, Sir Richard Arden, in Bramley v. Alt, 3 Ves. 622, limits the rule to cases where all the bidders, except the purchaser, are puffers. This case was one where one person only bid for the vendor, at £75 per acre, and then, afterwards, in a contest of real bidders among themselves, the estate was run up to £100 17s. an acre, and this was held not to avoid the sale. In the opinion, he says: "It is contended, as a point established by Howard v. Castle, 6 T. R. 642, that neither courts of law nor of equity will support this sale. I have looked into that case, which was relied upon at the trial, and is the only defence set up against the performance of this agreement. Upon that case, there is no doubt that no man shall be compelled to abide by such a bargain; no person being present but the buyer and the persons bidding on behalf of the seller; and in consequence of his zeal he was induced to bid, thinking he was bidding against real purchasers. The judges were of opinion that it was a mere fraud upon him as a purchaser; that a man going to an auction has a right to expect that he is bidding against real purchasers. He may be induced upon that supposition, which he has a right to make, to give as much as any man will for himself; and if he is induced to bid by that method, he has been the dupe of a fraud. I perfectly subscribe to that; but is this a case of that complexion ? and am I to understand that, if at any sale any one person bids for the seller without having declared it, though he ceased to bid, and the purchaser pursued his bidding against bond fide bidders, he shall, from the mere circumstance of that one person bidding for the seller, avail himself of that to put an end to his contract ? I can collect no such thing; and should be sorry that was to prevail. On the contrary, I see it expressly stated that no other persons were present but those who bid on the part of the seller. I am told the Lord Chancellor, in a late case, intimated that he could not consider himself bound to hold that the purchaser could refuse to abide by the contract, because there were persons who bid for the seller. I do not know whether his lordship gave any opinion. I have no doubt that if there were none but puffers, and a person was induced by that method to give more than the value, neither courts of law nor of -equity would support it. I was amazed to find no witnesses were examined for the defendant; but it and do not know that sham-bidders are employed, he will not be liable to an action by the buyer; but the remedy of the now appears that the reason which induced his counsel very properly not to call any, thinking it would be in vain, was, that several days afterwards he confirmed the sale, by paying part of the auction duty; which he states by his answer he was rather inveigled into. The fact is, that at the sale one person was authorized to bid for the seller as far as seventy-five guineas; and did so. It is said that ought to have been proclaimed. No doubt a man may buy in an estate; for the statutes authorize the auctioneer not to pay the duty if it is bought in; but it is said that ought to be an open declared thing. Where is the difference between that and setting it up at seventy-five guineas ? The judge's report shows this fictitious bidder did not induce him to go on; for afterwards began the contest between him and Mills, who swears he was a real bidder. Can I say the defendant was induced by the fraud of the seller to bid what he would not have given if he had not been so induced ? Therefore, without impugning the authority of that case, to which as stated I perfectly subscribe, I am clearly of opinion that no fraud was practised upon the defendant; that he was bidding at a fair sale, and became the purchaser; and I do not believe the judges meant that if one person was bidding for the seller, that shall vitiate the bargain, if under all the circumstances that does not operate as a fraud upon the buyer. This contract, therefore, ought to proceed." In Smith v. Clarke, 12 Ves. 481, Sir W. Grant held, that, where a person was employed to bid up to a certain sum to prevent a sacrifice of the property, the purchaser was bound by the sale, though the bid immediately previous to the last bid was made by the puffer. This relaxation of doctrine is approved of in Steele v. Ellmaker, 11 S. & R. 86; Jenkins v. Hogg, 2 Const. 821; and Wolfe v. Luyster, 1 Hall, 146. But in the late case of Crowder v. Austin, 3 Bing. 368, the doctrine of Lord Mansfield, in Bexwell v. Christie, is adopted. In this case, the plaintiff sought to recover the price of a horse sold to him by the defendant at a public auction, one condition of which action was, that the horse should be sold to the best bidder. The defendant resisted the contract on the ground that after a bond fide bidder had bid £12, a servant of the plaintiff's, stationed by him at the auction, made repeated biddings up to £23, and it was held by the whole court, that the transaction was a fraud, which vitiated the sale, and that the doctrine of Lord Mansfield was the correct one.
1 Veazie v. Williams, 3 Story, 620.