Antiques, Auctions and More

Selling at Auction

Auction prices can sometimes be extremely erratic. Other than pure chance there are other factors worth considering.

  • Time of year when an auction takes place.
  • The reputation and the expertise of the auction house
  • The quality of the cataloguing.
  • If the auction house stands by its attributions and condition reports. They should in order to obtain the best price but many do not.
  • What other events (antique fairs) or auctions are taking place at the time of an auction.
  • The provenance; famous collections or to some extent items bearing the labels of reputable dealers (but keep in mind that dealers and collectors labels are now being copied).
  • The state of the market.
  • You should take into consideration that when you sell at auction, you may only receive about 40% in terms of what the buyer pays. In some cases you can lose almost half the value of your antique/s. It is always worth trying to negotiate the commission you pay

Buying at Auction

There are many pitfalls when buying at auction. Always read the conditions of sale carefully. It is important to remember that there can be a substantial buyer’s premium. You may understandably believe that a buyer’s premium guarantees that what you buy is as catalogued but that is not always the case. Take for example a response I received from the auction house Vanderkindere.

Email to us from Vanderkindere

Dear Mister Gray,

We remind you that we do not guarantee anything that there is no claim or refund possible after the auction.

We invite you to read our general conditions (point 6) here attached.

We also insist that payment have to be done within 8 days after the auction.

Thank you to confirm your agreement or not with our general terms of sales so that we can decide to make the extra pictures and condition report to send it to you.


I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

The auction houses who stand by their attributions will often require at least two respected alternative opinions when it comes to a disputed attribution. This in the case of the private buyer poses a problem; museums will not enter into a dispute.

Unless recent fakes are imported in the right way it could be illegal for them to be sold in the 'The Margin Scheme'

We are always interested in buying suitable items or we can sell them on your behalf. In the case of items that have been purchased from us in the past we are happy to reoffer them on our website. If items have not been purchased from us then we can buy or offer them subject to the pieces being suitable in terms of quality, age and price. We will not offer items which we suspect may be fake. In general we will not sell ceramics produced subsequent to about 1800 AD but there are exceptions especially in the case of Chinese Imperial porcelain.

We value our reputation so we endeavour to run our business fairly. The buyer has to be confident that goods offered on our website are as described.

We can sell collections by auction if the collection has a value exceeding £250,000. The seller will not be charged any commission. This is an offer any other saleroom will find difficult to beat. For further details on selling your collection please contact us.