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Auction 101: What You Need to Know

Sunday, October 16, 2016

 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “auction” as a public sale at which things are sold to the people who offer to pay the most. That definition as basic as it may seem is what an auction comes down to at the end of the day. 

“Things," which translates to anything worth a buck is predominantly made up of art, antiques, and collectibles. With six figure highboys and million dollar lamps highlighted on television regularly, casual viewers gain a false confidence in their own knowledge and ability to work in the antique and auction world. 

Learning The Rules Before Playing the Game

For novice collectors, it's always best to learn the rules before playing the game. Whenever you buy at auction there is a buyer's premium, which is an additional cost applied to the hammer price. The buyer’s premium is a service fee charged by the auction house to cover administrative expenses for orchestrating the sale. 

Today the industry standard for a buyer’s premium is twenty percent of the sale price with certain houses ranging as high as twenty-six percent. Aside from the buyer’s premium the winning bidder also pays sales tax unless it’s fine art, that’s tax free in Rhode Island. 

What most people don’t know is that you don’t need to be present in an auction hall to bid, the majority of auctions today are live and online. Thanks to the internet, an auction is no longer limited to the people standing in a room but to the entire world.

In the United States, the two leading online auction service providers are Live auctioneers and Invaluable. Users are allowed to browse thousands of auctions that occur daily. But the convenience of having a virtual paddle isn’t free, inexperienced shoppers easily dismiss the additional buyer's premium tacked onto the hammer price. While the industry standard is twenty percent, the online premium is typically twenty-five percent if not higher. 

Attend an Auction in Person

It’s great living in a digital world but there is no better way to gain antique experience than handling items physically and experiencing the auction in person. Every auction is an action packed emotion driven experience that creates the ultimate shopping experience. With an auction there is not a set price, the sky's the limit, and the reverse is there is no bottom. 

Great deals can be had at auction and you never know what you are going to find. 

For seasoned veterans they call it a “bug”, the bug being the antique bug, the need to constantly seek out, find, buy, and sell everything cool and collected.

 Whether you’re an established collector, weekly Antiques Roadshow viewer, or you are hearing about auctions right now for the very first time, it’s a fun time that everyone should experience.

This article was written by Travis Landry, Toy Department Director and Specialist for Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers and Rhode Island Comic Con in part of an ongoing content series with GoLocal.

 

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