How to... Buy at antiques and collectibles auctions
Preview the items you're interested in

You may have noticed from Paul Fraser Collectibles' news reports that most auctions have pre-sale viewings in the run up to the main event.

As a buyer, you'll find that it's often essential to see the thing you are thinking about bidding on up-close. At classic car or art auctions, for instance, such viewings can give you an opportunity to quiz the seller, consignor, owner or artist.

Know what you are buying

Study your "quarry" inside and out. Once you have bought the item, it's yours - there's no turning back and you are responsible for it; be it the item's maintenance, or reselling it on the market.

So make sure you know the ins and outs and don't just dive in. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the seller or consignor at the pre-sale preview. Also, remember to only go for something you really like - buying simply for investment is often not a good idea.

Plan your spending

Study the catalogue, use the catalogue to compare prices and come to known it inside and out.

What is the maximum you are willing to spend? Make a decision, and set your spend ceiling. Also, add notes to items in the catalogue - ie key features, or any pertinent questions you might have.

Also, take into account any buyers premiums on sold lots - ie a 10% charge on top of the final hammer price.

Are you buying to invest, or buying to own?

If your reason for buying is the latter, then don't be afraid to keep bidding until you win the item. Many attendees are auctions are dealers. Their living depends on buying items and ideally selling them on for much more.

That means that dealers will be less prepared to follow you into higher bids, as the higher you go the less profit's it in for them.

Alternatively, if you are buying to invest then in may be wise to hold back, and watch and listen to other people in the room. Let the other bidders decide the state of play, and then perhaps enter your bid towards the end. In other words, slow and steady can win the race at auction.

Be fast with your paddle

Remember, auctions can be fast-paced. When you've raised your paddle to make a bid, lower it straight away once you've been acknowledged. Keep it up in the air, and you could unwittingly commit yourself to a higher bid.

Paul Fraser.

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