Several months ago I went to my first live auction. I’d been wanting to check out a live auction for years but always felt very intimidated. I finally broke through my fears and came home with LOTS of furniture! While I’m no expert in bidding, I can tell you what I did to help myself from getting bid happy.
First, all auctions have a preview. I usually just show up about an hour before the auction goes live to preview all the furniture. I carry with me a notebook where I write down any piece I’m considering buying. I write down a description of the piece and any other information that might be relevant. At my auction they put different colored stickers on the piece to signify different codes for the auctioneer. A green sticker means that there is an absentee bid and a red sticker means there’s a reserve on the piece.
Second, after I write down the pieces I’m interested in I go sit down and think about how much the piece is worth and how much I’m willing to pay for it. I also consider how much money I might be able to make selling it in my booth. All of the numbers are written down next to each piece’s description. This helps me stay focused if I’m in a bidding war.
Third, after each piece goes to the block, cross it off your list if you didn’t win or write you’re winning bid down and circle what you’ve won. After several hours of bidding and watching, you can forget what you bought and how much you spent. I like to keep a running tab at the top of my list so I know how much money I’ve spent. This also helps when you go to pay. Make sure you and auction house are on the same page when it comes to how much you owe. 🙂
Things to remember when going to a live auction:
The house takes a percentage of each winning bid. They call this the buyer’s premium. My buyer’s premium is 12%. Don’t forget to factor the buyer’s premium into the total cost you’re willing to pay for a piece.
You’ll be allowed to pick up your winnings only during certain hours of certain days. Make sure you’ll be available during those times and days in case you win.
Many times the auctioneer will auction off more than one item at a time. For instance, 2 side chairs or a set of dining chairs. Before you bid listen for whether they are selling them for “one money” or “two money”, etc. “One money” means you’ll win all chairs for one price. Anything that the auctioneer calls “two money” (or higher) means that if the winning bid is $25 you’ll need to multiply it by 2 if it’s “two money” or 3 if it’s “three money”, etc. This is a crucial detail when bidding on multiple items!
Do you have any other tips on live auctions?
Chalk Painted China Cabinet
I got this two piece french provincial china cabinet at the auction! It was beat up in certain spots and the finish was soooo faded!
I removed the hardware and you can see what the original finish might have looked like.
This is the top of the bottom piece. Check out this obvious outline where the top piece was sitting. All I can say is that this china cabinet must have been in direct sunlight for years.
Even with the cosmetic issues I wanted it. I was so fascinated by the wavy glass in the hutch part of the piece. I’d honestly never seen wavy glass in furniture. I’d seen in antique pane glass so it was really cool to have it in this china cabinet.
I painted the whole piece in two coats of Annie Sloan’s Robin’s Egg. I sanded the entire piece with a fine sanding block then used clear and dark wax over the whole thing.
Here she is in my booth! It was really hard to get a good picture with all of the fluorescent lights looming about but it really is beautiful!
If you’re interested in purchasing this china cabinet, it’s available at my booth, The Hunter’s Alley, at Woodstock Market.