It would be very difficult to find somebody in this day and age that hasn’t traded on EBay. Whether buying something you just can’t find in the shops, or selling pre-loved clothes, we’ve all dabbled in the online market place. Flipping the coin though, how many people have used a bricks and mortar equivalent...the auction house?
Despite the popularisation of auction houses through TV programmes such as Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, I still frequently meet people who have never crossed the threshold of a fine art saleroom. It still surprises me; why wouldn’t you buy/sell in a live auction, using all the expertise of an experienced specialist and instead choose to put the work in yourself?
To bridge this gap many auction houses are introducing ‘online only’ sales. These mimic EBay in sense that bids can only be placed online and rather than the auction taking place over one or two days, with each lot ‘live’ for a matter of minutes, each items is available for bids over a period of weeks.
Here at Halls in Shrewsbury we held our first online only event two years ago; ‘The Wardrobe of a Modern Man’. Making over £40,000 it was an amazing collection of designer clothing and accessories all compiled by one gentleman.
This year’s event calendar has already seen one timed auction, comprised of modern and contemporary art, with another of the same subject matter taking place in October. Around the corner though, between 12th-26th August, a Jewellery and Bijouterie timed sale will be taking place. Entries are invited for this auction until August 5th.
Once uploaded onto the bidding platform ‘thesaleroom.com’ on the 12th, all of the items will be available for bids for two weeks. For example; if you like a diamond brooch estimated at £100-200 and place a bid of £150 on the piece, unless there are no other bids during the two week timeframe you would get the brooch for £100 plus a buyer’s premium of 30% (inc. VAT). If however somebody else also bids on the brooch, taking it over your original £150 you would get an email notification stating you are no longer in the lead. You can then decide in due course if you would like to up you initial bid of £150 to try and beat the new interested party. If this event occurred at a live sale you would have but moments to decide if you wished to go that extra mile to secure the item, however, bidding in a timed auction gives you the opportunity to make a more considered choice.
Although the bidding model for online auctions is inspired by EBay there are a couple of ways it differs for the better. There is an opportunity within the two week period for prospective buyers to come and view the items in person. Condition reports and additional images are always available on request but nothing beats handling an item before committing to bid. This will take place on Tuesday 13th August between 10am-4pm.
Perhaps more importantly, the greatest difference is how the sale concludes. Countless times I have been regaled with tales of people who have been pipped to the post in a bidding war in the last 10 seconds. This frustrating problem is not an issue with our online sales. If you are outbid within the last 20 minutes of the closing time the lot in question will automatically be given an extension of a further 20 minutes. This delay then provides the under-bidder with ample time to decide if they would like to up their offer. These extensions continue until no last minute bids are placed.
The number of auction houses that are now orchestrating these sales is on the up but what does this evolution of the process mean to the more traditional events? I believe there is a place for both of them. Timed auctions are brilliant for affordable, easily stored and easily packed items but there will always be works of art and antiques that require the buzz of a live sale and the unique theatre curated by an auctioneer.
If you would like to consign jewellery into the timed auction, or would like a free valuation of your silver or jewellery, contact Maryanne Lineker-Mobberley
Jewellery and Silver Specialist
Phone: 01743 450 700