Welcome to Biddle & Webb Auctioneers in Birmingham. Outlined below is a guide to buying at our auction. We hope you will familiarise yourself with this information as it will make buying easier. If you have any queries please call us, or visit us in person, we are here to help. We endeavour to make your auction experience as enjoyable as possible.
Before bidding for an item you might want to view it first. We have set aside special viewing times for this. One of these times will usually be on the day of the sale before it starts, in addition to at least two alternate viewing dates. You can find these times at the bottom of our homepage, in our auction calendar or in any of our sales catalogues.
Our items are usually set out to be viewed in our salerooms or in secure cabinets. Some of the sale items can be very fragile so we advise you not to touch any of the objects without requesting to do so first. If you wish to take a closer look, or are unable to find a specific lot, please ask a member of staff and we will be happy to help you.
Our catalogues include descriptions of all lots up for sale within a particular auction and can be found on our website.
We aim to give you a complete description of every item that we catalogue. Our catalogue descriptions will usually include measurements, any distinguishing marks, item lot numbers, as well as any obvious damage. Each lot will also be given an estimate price range. The estimate is there to give you a guide of each lot’s value and an indication of how much we expect it to sell for. However it’s important to understand that auction sales can be unpredictable, and so it’s not unusual for some items to go beyond their estimate!
For further information about our cataloguing terms, please refer to our terms and conditions.
If you are successful in bidding for an item, we’ll ask you to pay a buyer’s premium on top of the hammer price. For our Commercial sales, this will be at a rate of 16% + VAT (19.2% inclusive) on the hammer price of any items bought. The buyer’s premium for our specialist or Interiors sales will be at a rate of 20% + VAT (24% inclusive) on the hammer price of any items bought. All items marked with * in our catalogue will attract an additional standard VAT rate of 20% on the hammer total.
The Live Auction Event
If you have never attended one of our auctions before, you will need to sign-up as a new member. The quickest way of doing so is by signing up to your own Biddle & Webb account via our website. To do so please follow the “Create an Account” link on the top left hand corner of all our website pages. Alternatively if you bring along some identification, you can sign up as new member at our reception. Once you have registered your details with us, you will receive your unique bidding number, which is the same number used to make a bid. This number will be the same for every time you visit and may also be used to manage your accounts. If you are attending our sale, even if you have already registered with us, you will need to pick up your unique bidding number on a paper sign from reception on the morning of sale. Don’t worry if you have forgotten your number, our reception staff will find it on our system using your postcode.
The auction will take place in one of our salerooms. Every item or group of items that go for sale will be referred to by the auctioneer using its lot number. For every sale, the auctioneer will start by giving a brief description of the lot before offering a starting bid price. When a bidder is happy to buy at that price they will raise their bidding number clearly so that the auctioneer can see. The auctioneer will then keep raising the bidding price, until there is no one interested in bidding any higher. Once the highest bid has been reached the auctioneer will put down his or her hammer, signifying that a successful bid has been made and no more bids can be taken.
The speed of the auction can seem quite fast, but will vary depending on the auctioneer and the amount of interested bidders. However, normally the speed averages between 100 and 120 lots per hour. This means that if you are only interested in bidding for a high lot number you don’t need to be present from the very start of the auction.
Absentee or Commission Bids
If you wish to bid on a lot but are unable to attend the auction in person, you can always leave a commission bid. This is the maximum amount that you are prepared to bid for an item. The easiest way of doing so is via our website by signing in to your own Biddle & Webb account (for more details on how to register click on the “Create an Account” link on the top left hand corner of our web pages). Signing in will enable you to place a bid on any items that you are interested in buying. This information will then go straight from your account onto our central bidding system. You may also leave bids with us by emailing email@example.com, over the telephone, or by filling in a paper commission bid form which you will find in our reception area. Simply let us know your contact details, the lot number you wish to place a bid on and your bid amount.
Please note that we get very busy on a sale day so in order to ensure that your commission bid gets accounted for, whether made online or over the phone, they must be received at least an hour before the sale is due to start.
All bids will be taken care of and in confidence for you. We will also make sure that you will end up with as a low a price as permitted by other bids or reserves set. This means that unlike many other auction houses, if successful your commission bid will be as low as it would be were you present bidding in the auction against others.
On the day of sale, we also offer a number of telephone lines through which our customers can bid. One of our team members will be at the other end of the line enabling you to bid ‘live’ on the day. However, because our sale days can get very busy we have a limited number of lines that we can use. This means that requests are received on a first come first serve basis and are only available to lots where the lowest estimate is £100 or more.
We offer our very own online bidding service for bidders who are unable to attend our sale or simply wish to bid live from the comfort of their own home. Our live bidding system allows you to follow the sale on screen as it progresses, showing the lot information from the catalogue, the current asking price, and a list of the lots to come. In addition to the primary interface, we will soon be launching an audiovisual component, where you will be able to see and hear what is happening in the room.
We will not charge for use of our live bidding system, so the only charges you will attract come into play once you successfully bid on an item. The buyer’s premium on items bought via live bidding remains 16% (plus VAT) for the Commercial Sale, and 20% (plus VAT) for the specialist or Interiors Sales.
Additionally, for the Fine sale only, we use live bidding services provided by www.the-saleroom.com. Please note that if you intend to bid on our items through the-saleroom.com, you must register your details and interest in the sale through their website, by 4pm the day before the sale. Any bids made via the-saleroom.com will be subject to an additional charge of 4.95% (plus VAT) on the hammer price.
For our customers in the sale rooms, payments can be made during or after the sale. This means that you do not have to wait until the end of the sale to pay for your item. You can pay in person at our cash office, which is located past our reception on the ground floor. Payment can be made by cash, credit card, and debit card or by bank transfer (please see our details below). Unfortunately, we cannot accept single cash payments in sterling over the amount equivalent to €15000, so for if you are thinking of spending this amount please remember to come prepared with a bank card.
If you use our own live bidding service, we will be accepting card payments over the telephone, over the next two working days after the sale on 0121 455 8042. We are, unfortunately, unable to accept telephone payments on the day of the sale; however you can pay in person when you collect. Additionally, you can pay by bank transfer. Our details are as follows:
Bank: Lloyds TSB | Account Name: Biddle & Webb Ltd. | Sort Code: 30-92-99 | Account no.: 00164111
For those bidding via the-saleroom.com, in completing the bidder registration and providing your bank card details, you authorise us to take full payment from that card for items successfully purchased in the auction.
Collection of your purchases
Once you have paid for your items, you can collect your goods. Smaller items can usually be collected during the sale, depending on how busy our porters are. To ensure that our sales are not disrupted, furniture and larger items may only be collected once the sale has finished. If you need any help with carrying items, please ask at reception and we will get someone to lend you a hand.
As our storage space can quickly run out, you must collect any sold items as early after the sale as possible. Our Fine Sale items can be stored for up to one week after the sale. Items bought from the Collectors Sale will be stored for two days and those bought from the General Sale until the end of the following day. However, items left behind after their collection period has expired will be stored at a charge of £2 per day.
If you are collecting items from our Fine Sale after the sale day, we ask that you let us know in advance. Likewise, if you would like someone other than yourself to collect your item, please ensure that you contact us to let us know and that they have a proof of purchase for your item.
We do not have a company postal service, however if you wish to have your items posted to you we recommend Mail Boxes Etc. and Pack & Send. Both companies will pack your goods and dispatch them to your address. To arrange Mail Boxes Etc. to collect your item(s) from us please call them on 0121 685 8300, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To arrange Pack & Send to collect your item(s) from us please call 0121 741 2737, or email email@example.com.