Bonhams & Butterfield is one of the largest auction houses in the world. There are a number of appraisal experts on staff and many trust the appraisal and sale of their most valued items to the house. They deal in a wide variety of property, attracting buyers from all over the world to their auctions. The auction house began in 1865 when William Butterfield retired from being the town sheriff and became an auctioneer. It was during the Victorian era that the auction house really hit its stride, as people were seeking fine art and exquisite furnishings for their homes. Butterfield believed an auction would be the best place for these people to buy and sell their belongings. The auction house was a family affair and in 1914, Fred R. Butterfield, William's son, began his effort to give the auction houses of a London a run for their money. The business later passed to Fred's son, who expanded the house's European and Asian markets. In 2002 the fine art auction house of Bonhams purchased Butterfields, uniting the two companies into the third largest auction house in the world. The house continues to grow and is considered one of the most respected auction houses in all the world.