Buying at auction is a simple yet exciting experience. We offer the following ways to buy with us:


For all sales, other than General sales, you can bid live online via, and from the comfort of your own home. Each provider gives full instructions. It is easy to register for bidding and you can browse catalogue items online prior to the sale via any of the bidding platforms.

In Person

You can register to bid at the saleroom on sale day. We require your full name, address, telephone number, photo identification (such as a driving licence) and, in certain circumstances, a bank reference. You will be issued with a paddle number and you must raise your paddle so the auctioneer can see it clearly when you are bidding. The auctioneer will bring the hammer down on the successful bid and identify the winning bid clearly by quoting the paddle number.

Absentee Bid

Customers unable to attend the auction may leave an absentee – or commission/written – bid with the auctioneer, reflecting the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the lot. We are happy to execute these on your behalf and will purchase the lot for you at the lowest possible price, other bids and reserves permitting. Forms for leaving these bids are available in the saleroom during the viewing period and in the back of the catalogue. Once completed, they can be returned to the auctioneer's office. Absentee and telephone bids are offered as a free service and at the buyer's risk. We cannot accept liability for any failure to place such bids, and bids are accepted at the buyer's risk.

Telephone Bid

This works in a similar way to Absentee bidding. A member of staff will phone you just before the lot in which you are interested is due to come under the hammer. You will then be able to bid live on the phone via the member of staff, who will keep you up-to-date with bidding progress on the lot and convey your bid to the auctioneer. This free service is available for all sales except Saturday Antique auctions. The minimum lot value for a phone bid is £500. Because phone lines are limited, phone bids must be booked at least 24 hours in advance of the sale. Phone bids are accepted at the sole discretion of the auctioneer. Absentee and telephone bids are offered as a free service and at the buyer's risk. We cannot accept liability for any failure to place such bids, and bids are accepted at the buyer's risk.

Auctions at John Nicholson's are easy to view on and offline, and clients may view without any obligation or pressure to bid. Catalogues are available showing estimated prices and auctioneers are always on hand to give you advice and information on what you are buying.

Buyer's Premium

For all sales, the buyer will pay the hammer price plus a buyer's premium, unless stated by the auctioneer.

Fine Art Sales (including Painting and Asian Art sales)

24% of the hammer price + VAT on the premium

Saturday Antique Auctions

24% of the hammer price + VAT on the premium

Book & Manuscript Auctions

24% of the hammer price NO VAT (except on qualifying items - please ask for details)


You may pay with cash up to £10,000, cheque (only accepted upon prior arrangement), credit and debit cards, wire transfer or banker's draft. Please note a handling fee of 2% is payable on all credit card transactions. Debit cards incur no extra charge. Credit or debit card payments must be made in person unless prior arrangements have been agreed upon. For further details contact the office. You must pay for your purchase immediately after the sale. All funds must be cleared before goods are released. We request that all purchases are collected immediately after the sale. If you require us to store the items for you, this can be arranged for a fee with a member of staff.


Our recommended companies for national or international delivery of items are Mailboxes Guildford and Essential Address. They will be happy to provide you with a quote for packing and shipping. Customers are invited to contact Mailboxes or Essential Address directly, or via us.

Essential Address: 01276 684840 or

Mailboxes Guildford: 01483 453131 or

AlbanShipping logo

Alban Shipping offer collections and deliveries throughout the UK on their weekly Round Britain own van service. Alban Shipping offer professional packing, shipping worldwide via all modes of services, with comprehensive insurance. For more information visit, or contact our sales team on 01582 493099 or by email on


Our full Terms and Conditions are available here and our full Conditions of Sale and Definition of Catalogue Terms are available here. Our Telephone Bids conditions are available here and our Condition Reports Statement here.

Please note we use The Auctioneer's Margin Scheme.