Abstract painting in reds and browns of a street and a man

Dawsons Guide to Buying Art and Antiques at Auction

How to buy everything from art and antiques to jewellery, watches and collectables at an auction house. Dawsons Auctions show you how easy it is to take your precious items to auction and how they can help.

When it comes to getting the best value, buying at auction is a fantastic option. The items you bid on through an auction house ensure you purchase them at an accurate market price.

Complete Guide to Buying and Selling at Auction

Dawsons have put together this guide to buying and selling at auction to give you some pointers on navigating the auction process, including viewing the items, meeting the expert related to your item, and receiving a value for antiques and collectables you want to sell.

1. Before the Day: Research and Preparation

Before buying from an auction, you should decide on a style. Before bidding live at an auction, it's a good idea to go to a few local antique jewellers, antique shops and fairs in order to take notes on the items that appeal to you. Try to record as much information as possible about each object, such as the historical period and provenance, and then expand your knowledge of the period's aesthetics. When it's time to start shopping, this preparation will help you focus and prevent getting overwhelmed.

It's time to try your hand at an auction now that you've done your homework and set a focus. It's critical that you do your homework on the auction you've chosen to ensure that you have everything you'll need to join and get off to a good start. You should do your homework on appropriate payment methods for any products you could buy.

2. Viewing the Items and Meeting the Expert

From perusing our rare and beautiful collections to learning about your selected item to putting a successful bid, our team of trusted specialists are on hand to assist you, no matter where you are in the world. It's essential to get to know the item you have your eye on; this is why our experts are on hand to help you get to know your chosen piece and tell you everything there is about it.

You can sign up to receive updates about our online catalogues before the auction or schedule a virtual viewing with one of our professionals to look at rare and unique objects up close and personal. Private viewings in our Berkshire saleroom may be scheduled online or by calling us. Our auction calendar is available online.

3. Condition Reports

You must be delighted with an item before putting a bid, which is why we highly advise you to get a "condition report" from the auctioneer. A condition report is a document supplied by the auctioneer that describes the look and quality of a lot in depth. It is more than just an in-depth description. You have the option of requesting further information or photos so that you are entirely confident before placing your bid.

Your expert will help with a condition report

Dawsons expert examining busts of famous people

4. The Online Bidding Process

Our online bidding tool, Dawsons Live, allows you to register to bid in real-time from anywhere in the globe. You will be able to watch and listen to the auctioneer live stream the auction, then click to bid in real-time. It's easy to create an account, choose an auction, and submit your application before the auction begins. You'll be able to use your account to place absentee bids and book telephone bids after you've registered.

If you cannot bid live, you may contact us in advance of the auction to place an absentee bid (also known as a commission bid). Other bids and reserves allowing, the auctioneer will then execute your bids as inexpensively as feasible on the day. Absentee requests can also be submitted here.

5. Payment

If you place a winning bid, you will be able to take your winning item home when it has been purchased. The hammer price (the auction sale price) and the buyer's premium (23% +VAT) will be added to the total amount due for saleroom, telephone, and absentee bids.

Bids placed online are subject to a 3.5% - 4.95% surcharge imposed by the bidding site. However, when registering and bidding through Dawsons Live, there is no extra fee.

You have the option of paying by bank transfer, cash on delivery, or debit or credit card. Alternatively, if you bid online, you will get an invoice via email with a link to pay online after the sale.

6. Delivery and Collection

In terms of shipping throughout the UK, we can provide a Royal Mail Special Delivery option for small non-breakable items - please contact us for a quote. For all other items (and international shipping requirements), we suggest either: Mailboxes or Pack & Send delivery and collection services. Please remember that they will require the lot number, sale date, and shipping address to offer a quote.

White ceramic vase with blue flowers
Dawsons expert examining a necklace

If you're thinking of attending one of Dawson's auctions? Why not browse their online catalogue and view the upcoming auctions. The team at Dawsons will be happy to assist with any queries you may have.

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