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Sale by the Candle

A species of auction. An inch of candle being lighted, he who made the bid as the candle gave its expiring wink was declared the buyer; sometimes a pin is stuck in a candle, and the last bidder before the pin falls out is the buyer.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Sale by the Candle from Infoplease:

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