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Buying Art and Antiques at Auction

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

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

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 Experts

From perusing are and beautiful collections, to learning about your selected item, to putting in a successful bid, auction experts are on hand to assist you at all the leading auction houses. It's essential to get to know the item you have your eye on; this is why experts are on hand, to help you get to know your chosen piece and tell you everything there is about it.

If you're interested in buying at auction, sign up to receive updates and online catalogues before the auction or schedule a virtual viewing with one of the auction house's professionals, who can help you with examining rare and unique objects before auction day. Many are happy to arrange private viewings.

3. Condition Reports

You must be delighted with an item before putting in a bid, which is why a "condition report" from the auctioneer can help assuage any post-purchase regret. A condition report describes the look and quality of a lot in depth and gives you the opportunity to request further information or photos, so that you are entirely confident before placing your bid.

Your expert will help with a condition report

An auctioneer examining busts of famous people

4. The Online Bidding Process

Many auctioneers will allow you to bid online from anywhere in the world. 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.

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.

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.

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Expert examining a necklace