Inch of Candle

(Sold by). A sale by auction. Instead of the hammer of the auctioneer concluding the bids, the purchaser was the last bidder before the candle went out. Another plan is to stick a pin in a candle, and when the pin drops down, the sale of the article is concluded.

Down were tumbled miracle and martyr,
Put up in lots, and sold by inch of candle.

Peter Pindar: Lyric Odes, xiii.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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