This was originally a post written by Mr Chick on Vintage Norwich, but I thought it was so useful it could stand republishing here! Remember, all auction houses will be slightly different, but these are some good handy general tips.
You can’t move for auction shows on television at the moment; Flog It, Dickinson’s Real Deal, Cash in the Attic and our personal favourite Bargain Hunt (especially good if you record it and fast forward through the Tim Wonnacot bits). But although these shows are incredibly popular many people are still intimidated by the idea of bidding in person at an auction and prefer boot fairs or the anonymity of Ebay to source their bargains.
Fear no more as Vintage Norwich has taken the bull by the horns and gone to auction for you.
It can be quite intimidating when you first walk in if you are not sure what to do, but you will soon get into the swing of things.
BEFORE THE AUCTION
Before each auction there is a viewing period, this is usually the day before the auction and also one hour before the auction itself. The first thing to do is to have a browse and decide if there is anything there you fancy the look of. Don’t be afraid to pick things up to check for cracks or to have a really good rummage in any of the boxes of amorphous debris that turn up at the general auctions. There could be a treasure hiding at the bottom that no-one else has spotted!
Make a note of the item number that you want to bid on, I would also suggest making a note of the maximum you want to pay so you don’t lose control when the bidding starts. If there are multiple items in the same lot they will have smaller price-tag sized stickers to identify they are to be sold together.
If you find something you like the look of you will need to register. Go to the desk (usually there will be a crowd of regulars next to it drinking tea) and say to the person behind it in a strong steady voice “I would like to register to bid”. The addition of “… my good man” is optional. You will be asked for your name and contact details and will then be given a laminated card (or similar, depending on the auction house) with a number on it. Next time you visit the auction this process is much quicker as they only need to confirm the details you gave previously.
The auction will then start. The auctioneer will read out the lot number, a brief description of the lot and then a suggested price. If no-one bids he will reduce it until someone does. If it’s an item you want and he gets to £2 wave your card at him.The price will then rise if other people bid. Keep waving your card until either he shouts “Sold” or the bids go above the amount you want to pay. The auctioneer at Blyths is pretty fast so make sure you keep waving if you really want an item as he doesn’t pause when he thinks everyone is done.
AFTER THE AUCTION
If you win an item and don’t want to bid on anything else you can go to the desk to pay. There is a limit on the time you have to both pay for and collect your items but these details can be found on the auction house websites. Remember they is a commission to pay on your purchases, this varies but is usually around 20%. You can also save money by paying for your items in cash as there may be a surcharge for credit card payments.
You can then take your prizes home, boast of the bargains you’ve snagged and practice your bidding nod in the mirror. Good Luck!
Norwich Auction Websites:
//www.blyths.com Norwich Auction Rooms, 40-42 Lothian Street, Norwich, NR2 4PH, (01603 667984)
//www.barnesauctioneers.co.uk/ 73, Yarmouth Road, Norwich NR7 0AA (01603 304337)
//www.keys24.com/ Palmers Lane, Aylsham, Norwich, Norfolk NR11 6JA (01263 731682)