Buying antiques at auction

Buying antiques at auction


Posted 30th Aug 2013

Why buy something new when you can buy something really special that is old and unique? As interior items in shops are getting more and more alike across high streets in every city centre, the appeal of buying rare antiques is growing.


We caught up with the team at Barnebys.co.uk - the leading search service for antiques and fine arts - who gave us their tips on how to buy at online auctions:


Decide your limit before the bidding process starts
It is very easy to get caught up in the bidding process so make sure you set a limit in advance and ask yourself ‘how much is this item worth to me?'

The estimate is merely an indication
Every item (an item is also called a lot) has an estimated price, which is based on the current market rate of the item. The estimate serves as guidance for the buyer, however the final price can deviate significantly both negatively and positively from the price at the outset.


What to buy?
Buying an antique item guarantees originality and often results in long lasting love, but it is important to always buy with your heart. Most auction houses give a correct price estimate of the item and note that often price variations are seen with items that do not originate from this country. It is usually cheaper to buy in the country of origin than buying the same item in another country. For example, if you are after Scandinavian design it is worth researching that specific market.


Read the information properly
Make sure you read the information given on the item thoroughly. It is here that you'll find all the details on the item; its overall condition, any damages, and other issues. Also, don't forget to read the measurements properly so you don't end up with something too big or too small. If the item doesn't have any information text, contact the auction house and ask for details as well as photos. It is in the auction house's interest to inform the customer so they should help you out with this.


Leaving an absentee bid
You can leave an ‘absentee bid' with the auction house - this is the maximum price you are prepared to pay for the item. The auction house will give you the right market price even if this is lower than your absentee bid. For example, you see a lamp you want but cannot attend the auction. The estimated price is £75-£95 and you leave an absentee bid of £110. The auctioneer raises the bid with £10 for each new bid and only two other persons bid; one at £75 and one at £85. In this scenario, your absentee bid would win the auction with a £95 bid.


Note the date and time of the sale
When you bid online it usually gets very intense in the last few hours, so make sure you note the times properly and are ready to get e-bidding.


Check the additional charges before bidding
The auction house usually charges 15-25% in addition to the ‘hammer price'. Some internet initiatives charges 3-5% in addition to the regular ‘auction house' charge for the fact that you actually bid online. In those cases it might be worth doing telephone bidding directly with the auction house instead to make sure you avoid the extra charge.


To explore some interesting furniture sales coming up in the next few months, visit Barnebys.co.uk.






Related articles

Christmas gifts for cocktail lovers

Christmas gifts for cocktail lovers


Three sustainable ways to embrace slow interiors

Three sustainable ways to embrace slow interiors


Crispy turkey Boxing Day wraps

Crispy turkey Boxing Day wraps


Everything you need to know about underfloor heating

Everything you need to know about underfloor heating


DECEMBER ISSUE ON SALE NOW! Just £1.99!

Subscribe to our newsletter