- Come at least an hour before the auction is scheduled to begin (most auctions start on time) in order to register (you need a number to bid) and to inspect (PREVIEW) the merchandise. If you are serious about buying, allow 90 minutes.
- Understand payment terms prior to the auction: ask when you register.
- When you where checking out the auction, was it crowded? If so, find out about reserving seats prior to showing up. Most auction houses will take phone reservations for seats.
- When you preview, thoroughly examine all pieces you have an interest in. Remember there are no returns. You
are buying items in "as is" condition. You are responsible for ascertaining the condition of the items (chips, dents, tears, etc.) not the auctioneer.
- Do not be bashful about biding - show your number or raise your hand. No cute games (scratching parts of your
anatomy, wiggling noses or ears etc.) A good auctioneer will sell between 75 (slow) and 120 (fast) items per hour, there is no time for games, this is a business.
This is when the seller has a minimum price on an item. The auctioneer will not sell the
item below this price. The reserve may, or may not be, announced. The auctioneer
should tell you, if asked, if the auction has reserves.
Left bid or Absentee bid
Many auctions will allow you to leave a bid on an item - the maximum you would
be willing to pay - if you are not attending the auction. The auctioneer will
bid for you as if you were in the audience. Ethical auctioneers will NOT start
with a left bid but will bring it into play once biding from the floor has
started. Exceptions are when the audience is asleep, this does happen from time
to time at every auction. Systems vary, ask how that particular auction works.
Some auctions will have left bids on as much at one-third of the lots to be
Times the Money
When multiples of the same item are to be sold (12 crystal glasses, 50 pieces of
china, 6 pocket watches, 5 prints, etc.) you are biding for one item and then
MULTIPLYING your bid times the number of items in the lot. Listen carefully!
Some auctions will allow you to bid from another place (your home) by telephone. This
is increasingly common as auctions are advertised on the web. This is always
done by prearrangement.
Most auctions operate as a bell curve, prices start out at the lower end, then rise to a peak, and then slowly
decline. The best merchandise tends to sell one and a half - two hours after the
auction begins. Some good stuff may be left to the end in order to encourage
people to stay to the end.
This is very basic and we are, as usual, open to your questions and comments.