E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
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.