Top Tips for Buying at Auction

Auctions can seem complicated, we want to make them simple to understand...


Buying at auction can seem like a complicated process, with all the industry terms and formalities, and it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. 

At Dawsons, we strive to make the process as seamless and straightforward as possible for our sellers and buyers alike. To help you along the way as you start to consider whether to sell or buy at auction, we have put together some of our top tips.




Scan the market


When buying at auction, it is important to look carefully at your chosen Auction House’s sale process. As well as using an Auctioneer that is transparent with costs, you also want to ensure they are wholly transparent with their catalogue description of any item that is for sale, to ensure you know exactly what you are buying and that it has been valued accurately. Our team of expert valuers here at Dawsons, continuously track and review market fluctuations to ensure you are receiving accurate and to-date auction valuations. Our values are informed by an item’s condition, rarity, and provenance, as well as current international market trends.

We produce a digital online catalogue complete with high resolution images that allow you to view an item in detail before bidding with confidence, we also offer in-person viewing for all items so you can be sure of what you are buying before you commit to bid.

We hold a number of viewing days before each sale to give you the opportunity to view and handle lots yourself before purchasing. Viewing in person also allows you to meet with our experts face-to-face and speak to them directly about the item and ask any questions you may have.



Register with an auction house


This is always a good way to get to know who you are buying from, and will help you build a trusting relationship with them. We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with our clients and operate in a way that means you can rest assured we have your best interests at heart.

When you register with Dawsons, you’ll receive information on upcoming sales, get a first look at any highlight items that are of specific interest to you, and receive regular newsletters and blogs - keeping you up-to-date on exciting and interesting developments from within the auction world.



Check your bidding options


Every auction house is different and has its own channels for bidding. We offer a range of bidding options across multiple platforms, meaning you can bid from anywhere across the globe.

If you’d like to bid by telephone, just get in touch with us at least 24 hours before the sale and a member of our team will call you on the day so you can bid live over the phone. We also offer absentee bidding (sometimes called commission bidding) if you are unable to bid live. In addition to this, we also take bids through several online bidding platforms, including our own, Dawsons Live, as well as external platforms Easy Live Auction, Invaluable and



Don’t forget to consider buyer’s premium


Buyer’s premium is how auction houses make their income and is essentially a service fee added on to the hammer price when buying at auction. Charges vary from place to place, so it is important to consider this when shopping around.

As we do with all our costs, we remain transparent about our buyer’s premium which is 23%+VAT (27.6% total). If you choose to bid through one of our external online bidding platforms, be aware that there is an additional 3% to 5% added to this by the respective platforms.

There is no additional charge when registered and bidding with Dawsons Live.



Make sure your auctioneer is thoroughly regulated


Buying online has become the most popular way to shop in the digital age we live in, creating a fantastic space for auction lots to be viewed and purchased on the world stage. However, like most things, it comes with its flaws. Viewing things online can make it even harder to determine if what you’re buying is genuine, with a survey by the British Hallmarking Council revealing that a third of gold jewellery sold online could be fake.


Buy with confidence... 

Here at Dawsons, we are rigorous with our checking process, making sure we run checks on every item we sell. Our partnership with the Art Loss Register, combined with our membership of The Society of Fine Art Auctioneers (SOFAA), means that our clients are protected by the most diligent authorities in the fine art and antiques world.




Have you seen an item within an upcoming sale that appeals to you? 

Our expert team of valuers would be happy to answer any queries you may have or offer condition reports where required.


Click here to see our full list of our forthcoming auctions, or contact us directly to enquire about any item. 

We’d love to hear from you  |  0207 431 9445