Bidding Wars

Ready to delve into the fast-paced world of antiques auctions? Boost your bidding savvy with these five tips from Jon Lambert, veteran auctioneer from Mebane Antique Auction Gallery.

  • Hit the library You don’t have to be an antiques guru, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little research. "Pick a subject that you like, whether it’s eighteenth-century English furniture or silverware," suggests Lambert. "Study that subject before you make a purchase."  

  • Read the fine print Avoid firms that charge a hidden buyer’s premium. These fees often add 10 percent to 15 percent to the final sale price.

  • Get close Experienced auctioneers offer previews the day before a sale. Materials are often sold as is, so it’s important to scrutinize goods firsthand. Most established firms offer a catalog for customers, but don’t rely on photographs—call for more information if an item catches your eye.

  • Keep it fresh Ask if the materials are fresh to the market (directly from an estate or personal collection). Often, these items haven’t been sold in decades, so you’re more likely to find a prize piece. Avoid consignment auctions, which are often full of dusty, dead items from antique malls.     

  • Don’t rush "Be conservative," says Lambert. "Don’t jump in there and spend a lot of money right away."

Categories: Dwell, Shopping