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The Pitfalls of Selling at Auction

Selling antiques via the auction route can be an exciting and potentially lucrative endeavour. However, there are several pitfalls and challenges that one should be aware of before opting for this method. Here are some common pitfalls of selling antiques through auctions:

1. Uncertain outcome: The final selling price of an antique at an auction is unpredictable. While you may have an estimate of its value, it ultimately depends on the bidding competition on the day of the auction. If there is limited interest or if potential buyers fail to recognize the item's worth, it may sell for a lower price than expected.

2. Auction fees: Auction houses charge various fees to the sellers, including seller's commission, photography fees, marketing expenses, and catalog fees. These charges can significantly eat into your overall profit. It's essential to understand and factor in these fees before deciding to sell through an auction.

(Sothebys illustration from Feb 2021)

3. Limited control: When you consign your antique to an auction house, you relinquish control over the selling process. The auction house determines the marketing strategy, catalog placement, and the date of the auction. This lack of control can be a disadvantage if you have specific preferences or timing considerations.

4. Timing constraints: Auctions operate on a predetermined schedule, and there might be a waiting period before your item is listed. If you have an urgent need to sell or prefer a quick turnaround, auctions may not be the best option. Additionally, the auction process itself can be time-consuming, involving multiple stages such as appraisal, cataloging, and potential delays due to rescheduling or low interest.

5. Market fluctuations: The value of antiques can be influenced by market trends and fluctuations. If the market for a particular type of antique is weak during the auction period, it may negatively impact the final selling price. It's important to stay informed about current market conditions and consult with experts to determine the optimal time to sell your antique.

6. Limited exposure: While auctions offer a platform to reach potential buyers, they also have limitations in terms of audience reach. Auctions may primarily attract a local or specific group of buyers, potentially limiting the exposure of your antique to a broader market. This reduced exposure may result in fewer bids and a lower final selling price. Your item may face an empt auction room, and although some auctions have an online presence, if your potential buyer is not online for the 30 seconds your item is aired the opportunity is gone!

With The Art of Quality Antiques Consignment service, we have your items advertised 24 hours, seven days a week, reaching a truly global audience.

7. No guaranteed sale: Unlike selling through other channels such as private sales or consignment shops, there is no guarantee that your antique will sell at an auction. If there is insufficient interest or if the reserve price (minimum price for sale) is not met, the item may remain unsold. This can be disappointing and may require further efforts to find an alternative buyer.

It's important to carefully evaluate these potential pitfalls before deciding to sell your antiques through auctions. Consider your specific circumstances, the nature of the item, and explore alternative selling methods to ensure the best outcome for your antique.

The Art of Quality Antiques offers a Consignment service, whereby we look to sell your items to our huge database of collectors, dealers, interior designers etc., if and only, if we are successful, we charge a commission, similar to an auction, however, we offer your items on a number of global platforms and aim to achieve a price for you much closer to retail, only then do we take a commission. We do not charge if your item is not sold and we do not make you wait for your money once an item is sold.

Contact us for further details.

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