Going Vintage Guest Post: What to Expect from an Auction by Weschler’s

Today’s guest post from Weschler’s demystifies the auction process for all the newbies out there. Photos from the upcoming Prints & Works of Art auction are courtesy of Weschler’s. Plus, if you’re in the DC area and a member of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s 1869 Society, you can attend Auction Buying 101 tomorrow night at Weschler’s. Check out the Society’s Facebook page for more details.

Sam Gilliam (American b. 1933), For Xavier, Serigraph, Estimate: $2,000-$4,000
The public has long harbored the mistaken perception that auctions were strictly an arena for dealers and the privileged. However, today’s auction houses are an exciting and viable resource where both the novice and seasoned buyer can gather in hopes of placing the highest bid.

The experience of an auction can be an exhilarating ride, so it’s best to be prepared – both mentally and financially. While a scratch on the nose may not make you the reluctant owner of a costly new painting, it’s best to know all of the details before you raise your hand.
Pre-sale exhibition: This is your chance to scope out the goods. Most of Weschler’s pre-sale exhibitions start the Saturday prior to the sale and continue through the next Thursday. The exhibitions are free of charge and provide the public a chance to see the items up close. Take this time to really scrutinize the pieces, making note of their condition, dimensions and weight. That Louis XV bureau may look stunning in the catalogue , but you’ll be out of luck if you fail to fit it through your front door. All property is Sold As Is, so make sure you’re satisfied with each piece. This is also a great time to ask questions of the specialists and buy a sale catalogue.

Pre-sale estimates: As a convenience to bidders, Weschler’s publishes pre-sale estimates of the value of each lot in the auction. Estimates are intended as a guide and should not be considered a prediction of the selling price.

M.C. Escher (Dutch 1898-1972), Stars (Bool 359), Wood engraving, Estimate: $10,000-$20,000
You’ve found the perfect piece, but you can’t attend the auction: Most of Weschler’s Capital Collections Estate Auctions are held on Friday mornings. If this is a less than convenient time for you, don’t worry—there are plenty of bidding options.

1)      Absentee bid:  This is a confidential, written maximum price for the lot or lots in which you are interested. It is executed by the auctioneer, on your behalf, in competition with the gallery audience. Whenever possible, the auctioneer will acquire the lot for less than your maximum bid. You can leave an absentee bid with the front office anytime during the pre-sale period.
2)      Telephone bid: This option allows the bidder to participate in the live auction even if they can’t make it in person. Bidders must register with the front office in advance, signifying which lots they are interested in. When the item comes up for sale, a representative from Weschler’s will call the bidder and execute the bids on their behalf.
3)      Online bid: In conjunction with Artfact Live!, Weschler’s also offers live online bidding. Simply visit www.Artfact.com/LiveAuctions to register, and you can enjoy live virtual bidding along with those in the auction house and on the telephone.

The Big Day: You’ve marked your favorite lots in the sale catalogue and cleared out a few hours in your day. You’re ready to start bidding!

1)      Register. You can’t bid without a bidder’s number, and you can’t get one without registering. The process only takes a few minutes, but it’s always best to arrive a bit early.
2)      Know what you’re willing to spend: Use the pre-sale estimates as a guide and decide just how much you’re willing to spend.
3)      And don’t forget to factor in the Buyer’s Premium: A standard 20% Buyer’s Premium of the successful bid price up to and including $50,000, and 12% percent of the successful bid price over $50,001 will be added to the total purchase price. District of Columbia’s 6% sales tax is added to that total.
4)      Keep the increments in mind: The auctioneer generally advances the bidding in the following incremental amounts.

$100-499 — $25 increments
$500-999 — $50 increments
$1,000-1,999 — $100 increments
$2,000-4,999 — $200 increments
$5,000-10,000 — $500 increments
$10,000+ — auctioneer’s discretion

Ansel Adams (American 1902-1984), Edward Weston, Carmel Highlands CA (1 of 2 Works)
Gelatin silver print, Estimate: $4,000-$6,000
You’ve won! Now how do you fit that dresser in your car? Weschler’s will advise you on the best way to transport large items, and will help arrange for packing, insurance and shipping. All purchases should be paid for and removed the day of sale, but when necessary, no later than three days post sale.

Hopefully these tips have helped demystify the auction process. If you still have questions, feel free to call us at (202) 628-1281. Exhibition for our upcoming June 12th sale, Prints & Works of Art starts this Thursday. A full color catalogue and exhibition hours are available on our website. We love to see new faces in the gallery, so stop in for a look!

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