Submitting an Absentee Bid

There will be days when you just can't make it down to the auction house -- a coworker called in sick, your kid has an important appointment, or your car broke down.  On these days, you can call in and make an absentee bid, if you've decided already what you want to buy and how much you're willing to pay for it.  Here are the steps for placing an absentee bid.

girl on the telephone

Know the exact item you're bidding on.  Many items at auction have a lot number, which distinguishes them from each other, and you'll need to know that number to set up the bid.  You should have gone to the auction house ahead of time to look at the lots or to ask for a catalog, so you should have the lot number on hand.  Verify, if you can, that you've got the right number so you're not bidding hundreds of dollars on a limited edition sock instead of the antique mugs you wanted.

 Call the auction house or place an online bid at the right time.  Some places require that you set up the absentee bid at least 24 hours in advance, while others ask that you call right before the auction actually takes place so that there aren't any sketchy deals going on.  Just be sure you've got the right phone number or web address on hand.

 Give them your bidding cap.  Because you don't know how the auction will progress, your absentee bid is usually your maximum bid -- the most you're willing to pay for an item, should the price climb up that high.  The auction house will bid in appropriate increments for you up to that price, so don't worry, just because you tell them a certain amount doesn't mean that you have to pay that much.  Don't forget to factor in the buyer's premium as well.

 Leave them accurate contact information so they can get in touch with you after the auction ends.  You'll also want to ask how you'll know if the item sold to you or not, so make sure you confirm the way you'd like to be contacted (usually via phone call or email message).

 Be ready to pay for and go pick up your item right away.  Auction houses tend to try to clear out their inventory as soon as possible so new pieces can rotate in, so they likely won't be happy if you bid on something, win it, and then leave it there for a few days.  Prepare to go pick up the item (or have someone pick it up for you) within their time frame, or at least within 24 hours of being notified that you won.

 Do you have any questions about auctions that we could answer for you?  Contact us via email at and we'll try to answer your inquiries in an upcoming blog post!


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