5 Tips for Buying Antiques at Auctions - The Relux
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5 Tips for Buying Antiques at Auctions

5 Tips for Buying Antiques at Auctions

One of the ways that you can buy antique pieces is through auctions, and it can be a fun and exciting way to add new pieces to your trove. However, before you snag a piece through an auction sale, you need to understand the process surrounding it and what you should do in each phase.

Here are five tips to help you:

1. Allot enough time for viewing.

Viewing is perhaps the most important part of any auction, because this is the time when you can inspect the different pieces for sale and decide on which lots you would want to bid on

Viewings are typically scheduled a few days before the auction and a few hours before the actual sale takes place. However, it’s typically not advisable to only view items shortly before the auction, especially if you’re looking at a huge catalogue.

If you want to be assured of the quality of the pieces, take time to attend the viewing prior the sale event. This way, you can inspect each lot thoroughly and get the necessary information you need before deciding to register as a bidder at an auction.

2. Understand the terms of the sale.

Before you register at an auction, make sure that you’re aware of the sale conditions that the auctioneer set out for the lots that you’re interested in. Typically, auctioneers give printouts containing these terms; so make sure that you have acquired a copy of that before the sale.

3. Determine how you would want to place your bids.

There are different ways of placing your bids such as:

  • Traditional bidding – The traditional way of participating in an auction is through being at the sale physically. Aside from the thrill, being in the actual auction event can help you gauge the mood and competition, which allows you to be more competitive with your bidding.
  • Phone bidding – You also have the option to do your bidding on the phone.  If you choose to bid this way, a telephone representative will call you before the bidding starts on the lot you’re interested in. He or she will relay what’s happening in the event and will pass your bids through. Some dealers and collectors go for telephone bidding in order to stay anonymous.
  • Commission bidding – If you can’t be present on the day of the sale or if you don’t have the time to participate via telephone, you can leave your bid with the auctioneer. All you need to do is fill up a form indicating the lots you want to bid on and the highest amount you’re willing to pay for each piece.
  • Internet bidding – Internet bidding is another way to place bids remotely. It allows you to see the auction progress in real time through a display of the lot being sold and the bids being made on it. Internet bidding allows you to bid in a click, but it usually comes at an additional fee.

4. Check the payment options.

Sold lots or items will only be released when payment arrangements are made. In order to make the process smoother, clarify the payment methods accepted and see if they will work for you.

5. Consider insuring your purchases.

Auctioneers will tell winning bidders when you should take your lots after the sale. If you’re planning to leave your items with them for a while, consider insuring your pieces.

Determine what will happen in case you get delayed at claiming your lots. Are you going to be charged a fee? Will your items be resold? Some auctioneers offer delivery for a fee. If you purchased big items, it’s advisable to have them shipped to you for convenience.


Participating in auction sales is a good way to grow your antique collection. But snagging a piece is not always about placing the highest bid. It’s also about understanding the process surrounding the sale and being fully aware of the necessary information on the lot you’re bidding on.

READ: How to Determine the Best Antiques to Invest In

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