The return of a wife after 18 years results in Michael Henchard's downfall in 's novel. The use of the halter was symbolic; after the sale, it was handed to the purchaser as a signal that the transaction was concluded, and in some instances, those involved. Wife selling persisted in England in some form until the early 20th century; according to the and historian, writing in, wife sales were still occasionally taking place during his time. A sale a century earlier in involved "eight pots of beer" and seven ( 30 as of); and in in, a man who swapped his wife at the village inn. That would have cost you about a hundred pounds.