This variant of the English auction was very common in the 1600′s and 1700′s. Traditionally, a candle is lit at the beginning of the auction, and the auction ends as soon as the candle’s flame expires. Participants never know when a candle auction will end, so this encourages them to make serious bids from the start of the auction.
Some online auctions use a modern variation, primarily to avoid auction sniping. In the modern variation, the computer selects at random the time at which an auction will end. This means that snipers will not be able to enter bids at the very last moment.