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Now that so many people who have never bought at auction before are starting to bid, here’s a timely reminder of how it works and why it is different from buying in a retail situation.

Firstly, even though access to salerooms in the pandemic are generally restricted these days, you can still bid in a number of ways: leave a commission bid, bid by phone or via the internet. Whichever you choose to do, the first thing you will have to do is register. If you want to bid in the room itself, give yourself plenty of time to fill in the registration form and pick up a numbered paddle. Information required will include your name, address, a contact phone number and email address.

The auctioneer will need similar details if you leave a commission bid or wish to bid by phone, and they may also require credit or debit card details at that point. If you bid live via the internet, you are likely to be doing so on one of the live auction platform portals such as the-saleroom.com and will have to register via them. They will take you through the simple, step-by-step registration process and will also require credit card details. Again, leave plenty of time to do this before the sale starts so that you don’t miss the opportunity to bid on the item you are interested in.

When the lot you are interested in comes up for sale, the auctioneer will announce it from the rostrum and ask for an opening bid, or will declare that they already have an opening bid on commission (usually announced as “with me”).


More on buying at auction next week.