6 Tips for Buying Antiques at Auctions

Of the many places to find beautiful antiques, auctions are probably the most intimidating. But, auctions can also be great places to find artwork, jewelry, furniture, and lots of rare and unique antiques – especially ones for a much lower price than most antique shops. Plus, snagging an awesome find can be a little bit of an adrenaline rush! 

If you want to visit auctions but don’t really know where to start, read below for a few tips and start finding those hidden gems.

6 Tips for Buying Antiques at Auctions

  1. Find a Low-Stress Auction House

    According to Old House Online, most auction houses have become pretty low-stress to better appeal to the public. Auctions still move at a fast pace, but many places have made them easier to follow. Ask around to see if friends know of local auction houses that are pretty low-pressure, and you likely won’t feel so intimidated when bidding on items.

  2. Pick an Auction with a Catalog of Items

    Don’t attend an auction that doesn’t post a catalog of items ahead of time. You want to be able to browse everything that’ll be available, which will help you make a game plan for the day. For example, as AuctionGuide.com suggests, you can evaluate whether broken pieces can be easily fixed. This also gives you time to do a little online research on items you like, just to make sure you don’t overpay at the auction.

    Or, you might not see anything that really catches your eye – so you won’t waste any time attending the auction.

  3. Decide on Firm Spending Limits for Each Item

    This is an absolute must at any auction. Pick a maximum price you’re willing to pay for each item, and firmly stick to it throughout the auction. These events can come with a bit of an adrenaline rush, so you don’t want to get carried away in bidding wars and pay too much for something.

  4. Arrive Early to Do Additional Browsing            

    No Pattern Required offers this great tip, which gives you a little extra time to inspect items you’re interested in. You can get a better idea of the item’s actual condition and investigate any damage mentioned in the listing.

    You’ll also want to bring a tape measure and measurements for the doorways and rooms in your home, as well as measurements for the space where you’re looking to put bigger objects – that way you can be sure the item will actually fit in your house!

  5. Be Prepared to Buy

    Firstly, this means bringing along the appropriate type of payment – cash, check, credit card, etc. It doesn’t hurt to bring all three, but you should know ahead of time which payments the auction house takes.

    Secondly, be prepared to take items home. That means having enough room in your car in case you make the top bids, as well as material to carefully pack everything for the ride home. If you’re planning on bidding on something large like an antique cabinet, make sure you have a vehicle that’ll be big enough to transport it.

  6. Pay Attention

    Make sure you know the auction rules ahead of time, and also be sure that you’re paying attention to when your desired items are on the auction block. The fast-paced speed of auctions means that you’ve got to be aware of when you can bid on items, so you don’t miss out.

Some of these suggestions could apply to both online and in-person auctions, depending on which you’d like to browse for unique finds. If you’re feeling anxious, bring a friend for a second opinion or who has been to auctions before. Hopefully, you’ll leave with a great find!



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