Auction Glossary

An explanation of some common industry terms for clients when buying or selling fine art, antiques, jewelry at auction.

“As is”: The condition in which the item for sale piece currently stands. See ‘condition report.’

Buyer’s Premium: A Buyer’s Premium will be added to the successful bid price and is payable by the buyer as part of the total purchase price. The Buyer’s Premium shall be: 25% on the first $300,000 of the hammer price of each lot, 20% on the portion from $300,001 through $3,000,000, and 12% thereafter.

Condition Report: An expert’s detailed report of a pieces condition and provenance. Categories will range from ‘poor’ to ‘very good.’

Consignment: Property sent to an agent of sale.

Consignor: The person, company or estate that sends their property to an agent of sale.

Estimate: An expert’s valuation of possible selling price at auction, given low to high, i.e. $3,000 – 5,000. The final price may be higher or lower than this band depending on demand.

Hammer Price: The price at which an item is sold at auction and announced by the auctioneer as he lowers his gavel.

Provenance: A place or source of origin that describes an object’s history.

Reserve: A reserve price is an optional feature used by consignors to allow them to retain an individual item if bidding does not reach their desired minimum price. Reserves cannot exceed the low estimate and are not applied to items valued at less than $500.