Auction or Private Sale?

Why Sell at Auction?

Selling your antiques and collectors items through an auction is the traditional way to market your items to a very wide audience.  There are several benefits of selling through an auction including:

+  Items are marketed to the world using auction platforms like the-saleroom.com
+  There is no upper limit to what the item can make
+  Reserves can be placed to ensure your items do not sell below a certain figure
+  If a sensible estimate is used then a sale can almost be guaranteed

However, there are also several negative aspects to consider too.

Auction houses charge both the seller and buyer a commission, so the difference in price between what the buyer pays and what you receive can be up to 50%
If an auction house misdescribes your items then they are likely to be undersold
If the auction house does not have access to the right clientele then your item may sell for considerably less than it’s worth.
If a buyer does not pay for their item you will not receive payment
There can be a very long time between consignment of your items to the payment following the sale

We chose to sell this rare barometer through auction as it is a unique item and highly sought after.  It sold for £1,000.
We chose to sell this rare barometer through auction as it is a unique item and highly sought after. It sold for £1,000.
Mark Littler Auction
When is a Private Sale More Profitable For You?

As you can see there is a considerable difference between what the buyer has to pay and the amount you receive (45% in this scenario).  In many cases, an auction house will only publish the ‘hammer price’ (the price of the item before commission) as if they published the actual sale price (the price the buyer had to pay before it was released) there would be considerable frustration from the vendors unaware of this huge gulf.

In most cases this there is no way around the auction house system, as without the services and audience an auction house provides your item would not have sold as quickly nor as easily.

However, there are some items that can be sold for just as much privately, thus reducing the margin between what the buyer pays and what you receive.  The items best suited for private sales are:

  • Items of gold or silver whose principal value is based on the scrap content of the item
  • Limited edition prints whose value can easily be determined by looking at previous auction prices
  • Items made by designers whose value can easily be determined by looking at previous auction prices (such as Mouseman, Rolex, Titchmarsh & Goodwin etc)
  • If you need money quickly and cannot wait for an auction
  • If your item is so desirable that buyers will pay a premium to avoid it being exposed at auction (such was the case with The Green Hammerton medieval ring we sold for a client in 2016)
We sold this medieval ring (circa 1430) for a five-figure sum via a private sale to Mayfair based jewellers Wartski.  By not selling at auction the buyer was prepared to pay a premium as it was ‘fresh to the market’ and the vendor received more than 40% more had it been sold at auction.
We sold this medieval ring (circa 1430) for a five-figure sum via a private sale to Mayfair based jewellers Wartski. By not selling at auction the buyer was prepared to pay a premium as it was ‘fresh to the market’ and the vendor received more than 40% more had it been sold at auction.
Mark Littler Private Sales

In this scenario (where the price that the buyer is paying remains the same as the auction scenario), you would be 35% better off for having sold your items privately.  Auction houses will never advise that you seek a private sale as they are only interested in serving their bottom line; if you do not sell through them, they will not get a commission.  However, we always have your best interests in mind and being independent means we can advise on what situation is going to make you the most money.

How Does The Sale Process Work?

If you are looking for a valuation or are looking to sell your antiques then we can help.  We can provide you with a valuation of your items and we can also help you sell your print at auction or privately.

selling at auction 

Auction Process Mark Littler
  • Firstly we provide you with a valuation of your items either based on images sent via email or following a home visit.
  • We then advise which specialist auction house is best suited to handle your items.  Not all salerooms are equal and picking the right one is paramount to ensuring a good selling price. 
  • Next we arrange to consign the item/s from you, we issue you with our receipts and contracts, and then arrange delivery to the specified saleroom.  We can also set a minimum reserve.
  • As we handle all of the administration at the auction house all you have to do is sit back and wait for your catalogue.
  • Finally, following a successful sale you will receive a cheque for the proceeds in the post direct from the auction house.
COST

There is no charge for this service as we receive a commission from the auction house for sending them new business.  This does not affect what you pay the auction house in commission nor does it affect the amount you receive.

Selling Privately

Private Sale Process Mark Littler
  • Firstly we provide you with a valuation of your item either based on images sent via email or following a home visit.
  • Bids are then received from our private and trade contacts and we submit the highest bid to you for your approval. 
  • Next, we arrange to consign the item/s from you, we issue you with our receipts and contracts. 
  • Finally, we deliver the print to the buyer and complete the transaction. 
  • Payment is sent either via BACS or cheque once the funds have cleared.
COST

We charge between 5% and 20% depending on the value of the items and their location.  Our typical fee is 10% including VAT.  

 

If you have any antiques or collectors items that you are considering selling why not get in touch and see how we can help you.  Our auction advice service (more information here) is free of charge and if we negotiate a private sale our average fee is 10% of the offer price (but can vary between 5-20% depending on the value and location of the item). 

Contact Us

MARK LITTLER

Hill Top Cottage
Slaughter Hill
Crewe Green
Cheshire
CW1 5UP
(by appointment only)

[social_media]

01270 440357 
07415 145228
mark@marklittler.com