Antique Auctions - Tips on Buying and Selling Antique Furniture

 

 
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AUCTIONS - TIPS ON SELLING and BUYING ANTIQUE FURNITURE

Hardly a day goes by without the national reports featuring a story about an amazing work of art or antique that has been discovered, purchased for virtually nothing, and then sold at auction for an incredible sum of money. 

If this is your dream, be prepared for some big disappointments. Auctions are a good place to find some quality antique furniture at reasonable prices, but you are not going to make your first (or second for that matter) fortune at one.

The auction process is fairly straight forward, so here it is: 

BUYING AT AUCTION CHECKLIST

  • STUDY THE CATALOG

  • REGISTER YOUR DETAILS BEFORE BIDDING

  • DECIDE ON YOUR LIMIT AND STICK TO IT

THE ANTIQUE FURNITURE CATALOG 
The items featured in an auction are listed in a catalog in the order in which they are to be sold. It is usually published a couple weeks prior to auction. The catalog generally gives you a fairly detailed description of each piece of furniture, including the date it was made, the type of wood it is constructed of and in many cases a conditional guarantee of authenticity. Most also contain estimated prices. 

 

VIEWING
A few days before a sale takes place, the furniture will be put on view to the public. It is important to take the effort and view the auction beforehand. 

When you view a furniture sale, make sure you examine the pieces you are Interested in carefully. Look on top, under around, pull out drawers, look under table tops, lift chairs and look for signs of alteration. If you are uncertain about something, ask to speak to the expert in charge. He/she will probably be able to give you more information on the piece than was included in the catalog description.

 

REGISTERING TO BID and BUYING

Before you start bidding on the day of the sale, most auction houses will expect you to register with their accounts department (giving your name, address and possibly your bank details). They will then issue you a "paddle number."  

The bidding usually starts below the low estimate in the catalog and will rise in increments of generally 10% of the realized price. So, an item that is estimated at $100-200 might rise in $10 increments.

Many people bidding for the first time worry that coughing at the wrong moment could generate a very expensive bill -- take heart, this is almost impossible. Only after the auctioneer clearly sees you are interested in a particular piece will he even give you a second glance. 

Once the piece is sold, the auctioneer will ask for your "paddIe" number and write this down in the "auctioneer's book. 

 

Bear in mind, there is a cost for bidding. On top of the hammer price (the price at which the bidding stops) the winner will have to pay the auction house premium, usually between 10% and 17% percent of the winning bid plus taxes. 

 

 

 


 

 

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