You’ll be pleased to know that there are several ways to catch the auctioneer’s attention without having to sit in front of them. The first is leaving what is called a commission or absentee bid. You can pick up the relevant form at the viewing for the sale, fill it in with the maximum you are prepared to pay and register it with the auction house. The auctioneer will then bid on your behalf against other bidders up to the maximum. However, if other bidders give up earlier, you may well get the item for less. For slightly more valuable lots, you may be able to bid over the phone. Again, you need to register before the sale – usually at least 24 hours in advance – and can then bid live on the phone via a member of staff. Make sure you answer the phone when they call you to bid.
Finally, you can bid via the internet, either directly with the auction house or, more usually, via one of the live bidding platforms. Check them out early to understand the process.
I’d still advise visiting the saleroom if you can. A recent buyer at one of our jewellery sales was a first-time bidder who had enjoyed the experience so much that he has now started coming to other sales at Fernhurst.
He is one of those people who likes to come prepared, so he had checked our website for everything from buying conditions, including any fees, to bidding methods. With all this in mind he said that although he had been slightly nervous to start with when it came to bidding, his confidence rose as he had set himself a limit and knew he would not go beyond it. Best of all, he said, was the thrill of securing the lot against competition from other bidders, one of whom was in the room, while others were on the internet.
His experience reinforces two key lessons for auctioneers: have a clear and informative website and make sure you give a warm welcome and excellent service if you want them to keep coming back.