Attending an Auction for the First Time: What to Know

Buying an antique at auction can be truly exciting if you are a bargain hunter. There are few feelings that beat not knowing whether you will or won’t be successful, before finally securing your item at a great price. If you would like to attend an auction for the first time, however, there are several things that you need to know in addition to comparing antiques insurance policies.

You may first want to attend a viewing day to get yourself fully acquainted with the items that you are interested in purchasing. Here, you can check measurements, ensure that the items are authentic and ask for advice and help if there is anything else that you are still unsure about. On sale day, you should arrive early, get a paddle number and then find yourself a place in the room where you can be clearly seen by the auctioneer.

House clearances are frequently carried out by general auctions and are, therefore, likely to have a wide range of both mass produced and more individual antiques. This is a great opportunity to pick up an undiscovered gem. If the item you like goes unsold, ask the auctioneer about it after the sale. He may happily take the “reserve” price (the price that is the minimum the vendor will allow), or he may even phone the vendor and present your best offer to them.

There are also specialist auctions, which are actually easier and safer places to purchase antiques, given that the object has been identified and dated and the pre-sale estimate set. You are therefore in the perfect place to find some fantastic antiques. Carefully watch the sale and ask to speak to a representative of the department if a particular lot intrigues you.

You should ensure that you learn as much as you can about a particular antiques field before you get to the auction. This should include ensuring that you understand the “style” word – which refers to something made at a later date than the period to which it refers.

You should also, generally, only buy items that you like, as you may have to live with them for some time. You should also bring a decent amount of cash with you to the auction, unless you are making a particularly expensive purchase. Also remember to set a limit, factoring in the buyer’s premium, which can be anything between 15% and 25% of the winning bid, plus VAT.