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Learning Page - Glossary of Auction Terms

If there are any phrases or auction related words on our site that you do not understand or that you think should be added to this Glossary, please contact us.

Absentee Bid - a method of bidding for those who can not or do not wish to attend an auction in person. Absentee bids can be left at the gallery or pre-bids can be left for the Live Gallery Auction through liveauctioneers.com. The Terms and Conditions of Sale apply to all bids including absentee bids.

Absolute - Items sold Absolute at auction are sold with no minimum opening bid requirement and no reserve. The item will be sold to the highest bidder regardless of price.

Appraisal - A written document that contains an an official valuation which has been researched by a qualified professional and will be used for a specific purpose such as Insurance replacement cost, Estate taxation, or Charitable donation. As Is - All items for sale at auction are offered "as is." This means the property is sold as it is and you are responsible to examine the item for faults and imperfections. You are encouraged to inspect each item carefully to evaluate condition before placing a bid.

Auction - A public sale in which property or items of merchandise are sold to the highest bidder

Authorship - refers to the identity of the creator, period, culture, and source or origin of an object as outlined in the catalogue lot description.

Bid Spotter - see Ringman.

Binding - To place under legal obligation by contract or oath. Placing a bid at auction is binding and the bidder is legally bound as outlined in the Terms and Conditions of Sale.

Bought In - If there are no bids on a lot, or if bidding does not reach the reserve price, the lot is considered "bought in." This means that the lot is left unsold and remains the property of the owner.

Buyer's Premium - Each final bid is subject to a Buyer's Premium. The premium is a percentage that is added to your winning bid and constitutes the purchase price. If the buyer's premium is 10% and you bid $100.00 for an item the total before sales tax is $110.00. Applicable sales taxes are computed on this figure and the total becomes your final invoice or purchase price. In this instance, the total invoice price with 6% Florida Sales tax would be $116.60.

Chant - rapid-fire, quick-cadence combination of numbers, words and sounds that keeps an auction clipping along - is one of the most identifiable features of auctions and auctioneers. Newcomers to auctions are sometimes confused by the auctioneer's rapid speech and mistakenly feel the auctioneer is saying words and sounds that aren't meant to be understood. Although the most widely recognized talent of the auctioneer is undoubtedly his or her ability to talk fast - the first thing people should know about auctioneers is that their main job is to communicate, and if the audience cannot understand him or her, the auctioneer is not doing a good job.

Conditions of Sale - See Terms and Conditions of Sale

Consignor - The consignor is the owner of an item who has contracted with the auctioneer to act as agent on their behalf for the sale of their personal property at auction.

Fair Market Value - Fair market value is the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts. .

Gavel or Hammer - Either word may be used to describe the auctioneer's hammer that is struck to close the bidding. When a hammer is not used, the auctioneer's cry of "Sold" is used to determine the close of bidding.

Hammer Price - This term is used to describe the successful bid for a lot at auction. It is the sale price before the addition of the buyer's premium or sales tax, if applicable.

Increment - the amount by which the auctioneer increases the bidding. The increment may be rounded up or down at the auctioneer's discretion. Typically we use bid increments of $5.00 for items under $100.00 and $10.00 for items from $100 to $500. For example, if the bidding starts at $50.00, the next increment will be $55.00. Once the bid reaches $100.00, the next increment will be $110.00. As the bid price gets higher, the increments may get bigger.

Internet Bid - During the auction bidders may participate via their computers. An auction assistant monitors our computer and relays the bid information to the Auctioneer.

Knocked Down - a traditional auction house term for the hammer coming down and bringing an end to the bidding. You might hear someone in the gallery say, "The lot was knocked down at $12,000."

Live Internet Auctions - Computer technology that allows acceptance of bids via the Internet from all over the world in real time while the auctioneers is conducting the auction and simultaneously accepting bids from those attending in the auction gallery.

Lot - This term refers to either an individual object or a group of objects that are offered for sale at auction as a single unit. Each lot is assigned a number in our catalog for easy identification during the auction.

Minimum Opening Bid - The lowest staring price that will be accepted by the auctioneer.

Paddle - This is the traditional name for an implement, now more often a numbered card, given to each bidder at the registration desk. The paddle (or card) will contain the number assigned when you registered for the auction. When you want to place a bid, you simply raise your paddle until the auctioneer acknowledges you. If you are the highest bidder on a lot, your number is recorded alongside your bid. Be sure to retain your paddle and bring it with you when paying for your purchase.

Pass/Bought In/Unsold - These are various terms used by the auctioneer when an item fails to reach its reserve price during an auction.

Pre-Sale Estimate - This is the price range in which we believe the item may sell at auction. Pre-sale estimates are generally published in the catalog. These estimates should be considered only an approximate guide and should not be interpreted as a price. Estimates are determined at the time a piece is consigned which is well in advance of the sale and are therefore subject to revision without notice. The pre-sale estimate provides prospective buyers with a preliminary guide to value and is generally the basis for establishing the reserve price (see below). An estimate should not be confused with an appraisal (see above), which is a formal written document used for insurance, estate and tax purposes.

Provenance - This term refers to the history of ownership of the item being sold. An interesting or unusual provenance can add to the value of a piece, such as when an item was previously owned by a famous (or notorious) person, a popular celebrity, or an important historical figure. Proof of provenance is critically important. Hearsay, or family legend does not meet the criteria for provenance. Proxy

Bid - An agreement or directive which allows an authorized person to act as agent or substitute and submit binding bids on behalf of another.

Reserve Price - This term refers to the confidential minimum price that has been agreed upon between the seller/consignor and the auction house. It should be assumed that all items are sold subject to reserve unless otherwise stated to be Absolute or Without Reserve. (see above)

Ringman - an auction assistant that watches the crowd, encourages the bidding, creates excitement and conveys bids to the auctioneer or brings a bidder to the auctioneers attention.

Runner - an auction assistant that gathers the items being offered and brings them to the podium.

Telephone Bidding - In certain cases, and only by pre-arrangement, we will accept bids from a potential buyer by telephone. An auctioneer's assistant in the gallery will relay the bidding information.

Terms and Conditions of Sale - All sales are final and subject to our Terms and Conditions of Sale which can be found in the catalogue, at the gallery reception desk, and also here. Please read the relevant conditions carefully before making a bid. Registering to bid or attending the auction indicates full understanding and acceptance of these terms along with the agreement to be so bound.