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Beginner’s Guide to Selling at Auction

To discover all the secrets from the experts on selling at an auction house, Dawsons Auctions brings you the ultimate guide to navigating your way around the auction room, and everything you should know about selling your precious items.

If you've never attended an auction before, it may appear overwhelming at first and as if everyone is speaking a foreign language: lots, bids, registration, hammer price, buyer's premium, absentee...

Dawsons is here to make selling great art, antiques, and jewellery as straightforward as possible by taking care of the appraisal, logistics, marketing, and sales. With a unique marketing strategy, that is targeted at a large worldwide audience, Dawsons is able to produce a fiercely competitive bidding environment, ensuring the highest possible return on every item we auction.

Here's our step-by-step guide of what to expect when starting your journey with your chosen auction house.

What's the Process of Selling at an Auction?

In short, an auction is a method of purchasing and selling fine art and antiques by putting them up for sale, receiving bids, and then selling or buying the item from the highest or lowest bidder.

The auctioneer serves as a representative for each seller. In addition, the vendor may decide to accept your bid after the auction if it is close to what they are willing to sell it for – this is called an ‘after sale’. The exciting thing about auctions is that you own the item/s after the hammer falls. It is important to note that purchasing anything at auction is a legally binding commitment with the same legal consequences as signing a contract.

Blue and white ceramic antiques
Dawsons Auctions expert examining an antique

Antique coins and medals on a table

1. Choosing an Auction House

We suggest beginning by comparing what each auction house has to offer once you've acquired enough information on the auction houses in your area. You should investigate the amount of exposure your items will receive and the cost of selling through each auction house. In this case, the lowest price may not be the greatest option since it implies your items may not receive the care they need. A low price might also suggest that your antiques aren't being exposed to the right markets, with more prospective purchasers. Choose an auction house that costs a fair fee and gives your antiques a lot of exposure.

Our partner Dawsons Auctioneers are on hand to be able to guide you through the process of selling at auction. Book a no-obligation call today.

2. Valuations and Meeting your Expert Valuer

A valuation is the essential next step in the auctioning process. We offer complimentary private home appointments at our London or Berkshire offices if you decide to sell with us. Alternatively, you can fill out a quick valuation form with a few details about the goods you're thinking of selling, and one of our professionals will contact you with an auction estimate.

3. Promotion

Your item/s must receive the awareness and publicity they deserve. Promotion is essential for optimum exposure, so your item/s have the best possible chance of reaching the right person. Our monthly sales are well-publicised and promoted in advance, via online magazines, in print and direct digital marketing, to ensure that your items receive the most exposure and that potential purchasers are aware that they are for sale.

4. Auction Day

On the auction day, all potential purchasers will have the chance to bid for your antique/s, which can be done via phone, online, or via commission bid. A legally binding contract is created when the hammer falls, and the buyer makes a full payment on the purchase price. Your wonderful new acquisition will now begin the next chapter with their new owner.

5. Getting Paid

After the auction, the payment can be made through bank transfer, assuming that the buyer has paid in full. We'll also send you a settlement statement with a breakdown of the charges. Before your settlement is prepared and sent, applicable fees are usually deducted.

6. What Fees will be Charged?

The seller's premium is one of the costs you should be aware of. This is the price you'll pay an auction house to sell your fine art, jewellery or antiques. The charge is either a percentage of the item's worth or a sum set by the house.

By Aubrey Dawson, Dawsons Auctions.

Are you thinking of selling your antiques? Why not request your free valuation and receive guidance from the Dawsons in-house experts? The team will be happy to assist with any queries you may have.