New era beckons for auction houses as internet bidding platform comes to the fore

Auctions date back centuries. The first ever recorded was around 500B.C when women were auctioned off as wives in Greece. The modern & more acceptable format of an auction room began in Sweden in 1674 under name of the Stockholm Auction House. Things though have moved on quite a lot since those days.

One of the most important transformations has to be the introduction of online live internet bidding, brought to the fore predominately by industry giants, the-saleroom.com, themselves part of Auction Technology Group, previously known as the Antiques Trade Gazette.

The gulf between a small live bidding platform & the-saleroom.com is highlighted with the post image. This 18thC. cup & saucer was bought for a mere £100 at a saleroom with a much lesser platform. No getting much exposure suppressed its price & it sold cheaply, denying its original vendor the true value. When sold through us it made £1650 to a buyer who had sourced it via the-saleroom.com.

Auctioneer Paul Clark adds “The-saleroom.com have helped us build our business & are a crucial part of our marketing. Most informed sellers are also fully aware of their importance. The power of the-saleroom.com along with our established marketing skill, enable us to achieve some great prices for our sellers. Frankly no other live bidding platform we have ever used gets remotely close to what the-saleroom.com can offer our sellers with their enormous following & database” adding “It is very important for sellers to establish with any auction house they use what firm provides their internet bidding platform & get proof of this – some platforms bring no-one to the table other than local bidders you’d otherwise see in the room!”

The increased use of the-saleroom.com has helped keep the auction room around the country, more honest too. It is virtually impossible for some bidders to form rings on more desirable lots, an illegal conspiracy method to suppress prices. Our auctioneer Paul Clark said “It is extremely important to maintain a clean & honest saleroom to ensure sellers confidence that their chattels will be sold in a fair manner – using the-saleroom.com, a world leading live internet bidding platform ensures all items are well exposed”.

The-saleroom.com themselves has seen huge development in recent years, bringing a new age of buyer into the fold. Well over £2billion is spent through their online platform annually with over 51 million visits to over 14000 auction sales each year. Greater responsibility is being put on auctioneers, challenging even the basic fundamentals of the old auction buying process within “caveat emptor”.

Moving forward there will be new challenges. The bizarre & unprecedented demands that COVID-19 has placed on the world will change the business. As of March 27th, the government made it illegal for auction houses to be open to the public. A recent announcement by the government has confirmed Auction Houses can open to the public again on June 15th 2020 provided they meet the COVID-19 regulations. Our auctioneer Paul Clark said “It is going to challenge us, of that I have no doubt. Even in the event of the lockdown being ended, social distancing is likely to be enforced for some time yet, possibly many, many months, something itself will challenge all businesses who have direct dealings with the public. However I have no intention of putting my team or my customers at risk & we are constantly reviewing expert advice. We are also looking at what will be the best way to try to work with the current situation”. 

There can be no doubt things will change & challenges remain. The gravitas of this whole situation clearly has still to hit home for many & uncertain times still lay ahead for sure.