How do I Spot Issues with Items in an Online Auction?

How do I Spot Issues with Items in an Online Auction?

Have you ever purchased antiques or jewellery from an auction? There are numerous online selling platforms each of which has their own strengths and weaknesses, but the re-selling of high end art, jewellery and antiques is best left to reputable auction houses, who due to the current pandemic have also shifted their sales to an online basis.

One of the main advantages of selling these premium items through an auction house has always been that it allows bidders to view, handle and inspect the items prior to bidding. However, with the continuing lockdowns in Melbourne, attending such an auction in person like those at Philips Auctions, who have hosted regular sales for nearly 50 years in Melbourne, has become problematical.  Like many other businesses, Philips Auctions has been compelled to move their operations online, so that bidders are no longer able to inspect items prior to bidding. But this doesn’t necessarily have to reduce your bidding experience. They still have high quality items up for sale and there are a few services available that can assist your bidding strategy during lockdown.

It’s a good idea to take note of these services, because you might find that one or more will still enhance your bidding experience, once the world begins to move past Covid-19. Take a look at the online auctions from Philips to see their latest sales.

Do Your Homework

Information on auction items is used by in-house staff to evaluate and catalogue the items.  So, a certain amount of history or providence will be shared with the auction room when it brought in, and can often be used in the cataloguing description. However, there may be more information available through other channels.

This type of information could be important, so it’s a good idea to ask around your family, friends and colleges, particularly if they have specialist knowledge and gather your own data on the items of your interest. Whilst you might not find any definitive data, this additional information may help make you better informed decision about the items.

Ask For Extra Images

Catalogued items are usually only presented with one image, so don’t be afraid to ask the auction house for additional images. You can ask for specific angles or images of hallmarks, signatures or other distinguishing features. This type of information adds to your knowledge and helps you evaluate the item, even when lockdown ends, and you are not able to attend the auction in person.

Request A Condition Report

If you are particularly interested in an auction item, you can also go one step further and request a condition report. This report is written by an expert evaluator who will closely examine the item and note details that can’t be easily seen from an image. This can be especially important for valuable jewellery items that you are going to wear.

A detailed report should reveal any visible damage, such as scuff marks, cracks or chips, as well as clarifying or confirming any maker markings, signatures and so on. Again, this is the type of information that can be essential to your bidding strategy, whether you attend the auction in person or not.

Professional Analyses

In some instances, a professional analysis might have already been performed by in-house staff to evaluate the item and you may have access to this data, on request. This can include X-Rays or examining the item under UV light to reveal damage, authenticity or other specific features.

If this type of professional analysis is not available, you can ask for it to be performed at your expense. Clearly, you would be anticipating that the value of the item far surpasses the cost of this type of analysis, but it’s not an unusual request, even when auctions can be attended in person.

All of this means that you can still enjoy your bidding experience during lockdown. It also means that you will have learnt a few tricks of the trade that may well give you greater insight into the items that catch your eye and improve your bidding strategy, when lockdowns have ended.

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