How Not To Embarrass Yourself at Your First Ever Auction: Bidding’s Unwritten Rules
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How Not To Embarrass Yourself at Your First Ever Auction: Bidding’s Unwritten Rules

July 20, 2023 Share

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What to avoid and how to carry yourself when attending your first-ever high value auction.

Attending an auction for the first time can be an exciting and exhilarating experience. Whether you’re there to acquire a prized collectible, invest in valuable art, or simply immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere, auctions offer a unique opportunity to witness the art of buying and selling in action. However, like any social event, auctions come with their own set of unwritten rules and etiquette guidelines. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these auction etiquette tips before raising your paddle. In this article, we’ll explore key pointers to help you navigate your first ever auction with confidence and grace.

Image courtesy of Kitera Dent

Research Before You Bid

One of the most crucial aspects of attending an auction is to research the items up for bidding, where websites like Lumas can be very useful. Prior knowledge about the pieces’ provenance, historical significance, and estimated value will empower you to make informed decisions during the bidding process. Online auction catalogs and previews are valuable resources to study the lots and ask questions to auction house experts if needed.

Arrive Early

Arriving early will give you ample time to register for the auction, review the bidding rules, and acquaint yourself with the venue’s layout. Additionally, arriving early allows you to observe the proceedings, gain a sense of the auction’s pace, and put any nerves at ease before the bidding begins.

Dress Appropriately

Auctions often have dress codes that lean towards business casual or smart attire. While you don’t necessarily need to wear a tuxedo or an evening gown, dressing presentably shows respect for the event and its participants. Comfortable footwear is essential, as auctions can be lengthy affairs.

Understand the Bidding Process

Familiarize yourself with the auctioneer’s style and the bidding increments before raising your paddle. Listen carefully to the auctioneer’s announcements and follow their cues. Remember, if you are unsure or hesitant during the bidding, do not hesitate to seek assistance or clarification from the auction staff.

Control Your Body Language

Non-verbal cues play a significant role in auctions. Avoid unnecessary gestures or sudden movements that could be mistaken as bids. Keep your paddle down unless you genuinely intend to bid, and maintain composure during the fast-paced bidding to avoid overbidding or getting caught up in the excitement.

Image courtesy of Nicole Fahey

Respect Fellow Bidders

Auctions are social gatherings where participants share a common passion for the items on offer. Show respect for other bidders by refraining from disruptive behavior or loud conversations during the auction. Maintain a respectful distance from others and avoid blocking their view of the auctioneer.

Be Aware of Additional Costs

On top of the hammer price, auctions often include a buyer’s premium and applicable taxes. Take these additional costs into account while setting your budget to avoid any surprises during the payment process.

Listen to the Auctioneer’s Announcements

Throughout the auction, the auctioneer may provide essential information or updates about the items, terms and conditions, or any changes in the bidding process. Pay close attention to these announcements to stay informed.

Image courtesy of Matteo Maretto

Attending your first ever auction can be both thrilling and overwhelming, but armed with these etiquette tips, you’re now better prepared to make the most of this captivating experience. Research your items, arrive early, dress appropriately, and maintain respect for fellow bidders. With these guidelines in mind, you can confidently participate in the bidding process and potentially come away with a cherished piece to call your own. Happy bidding!

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