10 Top Tips For Bagging an Auction Bargain

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TEN POINT PLAN FOR SUCCESSFUL AUCTION PURCHASE

Here's a ten point plan that we think will guarantee success at auction

1. Buy a catalogue, either at the preview or if they are still available, by post in advance, alternativly view one on-line at GovernmentAuctionsUK dot co dot UK or find it by typing Government Auctions UK into Google - they're number 1

2. Attend the sale preview yourself. Auction houses usually put the lots on view two to three days before the sale. You will then be able to examine any pieces in which you are interested at your own leisure.

3. Closely examine the lots you are interested in. Catalogues for important sales include descriptions of the pieces with the valuer's opinion as to the date and authenticity of the piece. Ask the specialist in charge of the sale if you want more information. Ultimately, it will be necessary to trust your own judgment.

4. Don't forget the additional costs. When assessing how much you are prepared to bid for something, remember that you have to pay on top of your bid a buyer's premium, usually 10-15% of the price at which the auctioneer sold in the sale room, plus VAT on the premium.

5. Register to bid. At some sales, you may have to get a registration number in advance in order to bid. This usually involves giving your name, address and telephone number at the reception desk or being issued with a number card, or "paddle", to hold up should your bid prove successful.

6. Check the acceptable methods of payment should your bid be successful.

7. Leave instructions if you are unable to attend the sale yourself. You can always leave your bid (the highest price you are prepared to go up to) with the commission clerk or, in smaller auction houses, with the auctioneer or one of the porters. It is common practice to tip a helpful porter but not a clerk or the auctioneer.

8. Get to the auction in plenty of time.

9. Make sure that you don't come with friends who end up bidding for the same item as you on your own behalf. This may sound daft but it is not unknown for a dealer or private collector to absentmindedly instruct more than one agent to bid on his or her behalf.

10. Bid with confidence. Don't be fainthearted - wave your catalogue or bidding card or callout if needs be. Once you have registered your first bid, the auctioneer will probably take any of your subsequent bids on a simple nod. If he returns to you looking for a bid and if you do not want to go any further a sideways shake of the head should do it.

Finally, don't get caught up in auction fever. Set yourself a price limit, either at or just after the preview and stick to it. Professional dealers hardly ever go beyond their limits. 
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