George Low King Ja Ja Auction poster 1905

King Ja Ja

The auction of the contents of the King Ja Ja, conducted at Thorntonloch by George Low on 21st October 1905

The July 2020 resources above featured the rescue of the crew of the ship King Ja Ja (details) by the Dunbar lifeboat the William Arthur Millard. Documents relating to the auction of the King Ja Ja have been given to the Society by Pam Murray, whose great grandfather George Low carried out the auction.

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George Low Auction Poster of the King Ja Ja (1905)

The poster above was used to advertise the auction and was sent out to interested parties. The poster itself is interesting – firstly for its language. The heading “On account of whom it may concern” is a legal term usually relating to insurance policies and today it might be replaced by “To whom it may concern”. The poster was printed by Thomas B Knox who owned the shop at 64 High Street. ” In the 1890s,Thomas Black Knox established the shop as a newsagency, stationers and tobacconists, as well as having branched out into fancy goods and souvenirs” (David Anderson quoted in Herring, J (2020) Dunbar in the 1950s). As a stationer, T B Knox would have had a healthy printing business at this time. The poster also notes that Thorntonloch is “close to Innerwick  Station”, so participants in the auction may well have travelled by train to Innerwick and walked to Thorntonloch if they did not have alternative transport. This site (good photos) notes that Innerwick Station (1849-1951) “.. was a two platform station. The main building was on the westbound platform. The small goods yard was on the south side of the line, a loop serving a loading bank. Opposite this was a siding on the north side, approached from the east”. A written list of those to whom the poster was to be sent was amongst the donated documents and includes companies in Newcastle, Berwick, Leith, Dundee, Liverpool, Blyth and Glasgow. This was a major auction seen to be of interest across Scotland the north of England.

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Conditions of Sale at the auction of the King Ja Ja
Conditions of Sale at the auction of the King Ja Ja
Conditions of Sale at the auction of the King Ja Ja

The handwritten Conditions of Sale have survived as seen in the first document above. This would presumably have been typed up, as in the 2nd document above, and printed by T B Knox for distribution at the auction. It is not clear who actually wrote the Conditions of Sale but it may have been George Low’s lawyer’s office in 1905. Number 5 refers to the Sale of Goods Act 1893 and in section 5, it refers to “56 and 57 Vict”. This relates to Queen Victoria who was on the throne at the time and Acts of Parliament always made note of this. The Conditions of Sale make it clear who is in charge of the auction and that the auctioneer takes no responsibility for any problems with what is bought.

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Auction details

The photo above is the first page of the auction itself. It is a handwritten document and records the details of what was sold and who bought what. If you enlarge the document and press +, you should just be able to make out that the main income from the auction was Lot 1 – Hull everything (except cargo) and that this was bought by John Lindsay of 799 Walker Road, Newcastle. There is still a house at 799 Walker Road, Newcastle (Google Maps) but the original houses have been demolished a new houses built on the site. Mr Lindsay paid £66 in 1905 and this is worth £8,077 in today’s prices. The total raised from the auction was £95.11.9 and there were a number of bidders for various items. Examples of these bidders are:

Dickson – Thorntonloch; Watt – Tweedmouth; Craig – Dunbar; McLeod – Alloa; Young – Co’path; Malcolm – Bilsdean; Duncanson – Dunbar; Plenderleith – Thorntonloch.

Most of the lots were for smaller items such as block and tackle; ropes; a hauser rope cost Mr Lindsay £1.1.0 ( £134 today); Mr McLeod of Alloa paid £2 (£244 today) for a hauser (a nautical term for a thick cable or rope used in mooring or towing a ship); Mr Reilly – no location given – paid £4.12.6 (£504 today) for copper pipes and a brass compass stand.

Correspondence relating to the auction of the King Ja Ja
Correspondence relating to the auction of the King Ja Ja

Some of the correspondence relating to the auction has also survived. The above letter is dated 23rd October, two days after the auction. The details of the auction indicated at the end that Mr Lindsay had not paid on the day and £71.10.00 was due. The letter shows that Mr Lindsay appears to be forgetful and careless in his business affairs but has paid all but 10 shillings of the money due. G Low had carried out the auction under the auspices of the Northern Maritime Insurance Company Limited and this company was only dissolved in 2018 after 154 years of existence.