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15 Feb 2010, by

Auction Glossary

Basic glossary of auction terminology

Absentee Bid: A procedure, which allows a bidder to participate in the bidding process without being physically present. Generally, a bidder submits an offer on an item prior to the auction. The auctioneer or his representative usually handles absentee bids under an established set of guidelines. The particular rules and procedures of absentee bids are unique to each auction company.
Absentee Bidder: A person (or entity) who does not attend the sale but submits, in advance, a written or oral bid that is the top price he or she will pay for a given property.
Absolute Auction: An auction where the property is sold to the highest qualified bidder with no limiting conditions or amount. The seller may not bid personally or through an agent. Also known as an auction without reserve.
Accounting of Sale: A report issued to the seller by the auctioneer detailing the financial aspects of the auction.
Agent: A person who acts for or in the place of another individual or entity by authority from them.
Antique Auction: An auction that has all or mostly all antiques.

Apprentice Auctioneer: An auctioneer who is in training, operating under the supervision of a licensed or experienced auctioneer.
Appraisal: The act or process of estimating value. A valuation of property (ie. real estate, a business, an antique) by the estimate of an authorized person. In order to be a valid appraisal, the authorized person should have a designation from a regulatory body governing the jurisdiction the appraiser operates within.
As Is: Selling the property without warranties as to the condition and/or the fitness of the property for a particular use. Buyers are solely responsible for examining and judging the property for their own protection. Otherwise known as “As Is, Where Is” and “In its Present Condition.”
Auction: A method of selling property in a public forum through open and competitive bidding. Also referred to as: public auction, auction sale or sale.
Auctioneer: The people whom the seller engages/contracts to direct, conduct, or are responsible for a sale by auction. This person may or may not actually call or cry the auction.
Auction Block: The podium or raised platform where the auctioneer stands while conducting the auction. “Placing (an item) on the auction block,” means to sell something at auction.
Auction Listing Agreement: A contract executed by the auctioneer and the seller which authorizes the auctioneer to conduct the auction and sets out the terms of the agreement and the rights and responsibilities of each party.
Auction Plan: The plan for pre-auction, auction day and post auction activities.
Auction Value: The price that a particular property brings in open competitive bidding at public auction.
Auction With Reserve: An auction in which the seller or his agent reserves the right to accept or decline any and all bids. A minimum acceptable price may or may not be disclosed and the seller reserves the right to accept or decline any bid within a specified time.
Authentication: A process, in which it is determined if an item is genuine and is as described.
Automatic Extension: An option for sellers where if there are bids made near the closing time at the end of an auction, it is extended for a period of time.
Bank Letter of Credit: A letter from a bank certifying that a named person is worthy of a given level of credit. Often requested from prospective bidders or buyers who are not paying with currency at auctions.
Bid: A prospective buyer’s indication or offer of a price he or she will pay to purchase property at auction. Bids are usually in standardized increments established by the auctioneer.
Bid Acknowledgment: A form executed by the high bidder confirming and acknowledging the bidders identify, the bid price and the description of the property. Also known as Memorandum.
Bid Assistants: Individuals who are positioned throughout the attendees at the auction to assist the auctioneer, spot bidders and assist prospective bidders with information to help them in their buying decision. Also known as ring men, bid consultants, bid spotters, or grounds men.
Bid Caller: The person who actually “calls,” “cries or “auctions” the property at an auction, recognizing bidders and acknowledging the highest bidder. Commonly known as the auctioneer.
Bid Cancellation: The cancellation of a bid by either buyer or seller.
Bid Retraction: A cancellation of the bid by the seller or auctioneer.
Bid Rigging: The practice whereby two or more people agree not to bid against one another so as to deflate value.
Bid Siphoning: Emailing another sellers bidders and offering a lower price or better terms (not ethical)
Bidder Number: The number issued to each person who registers at an auction.
Bidder Package: The package of information and instructions pertaining to the property to be sold at an auction event obtained by prospective bidders at an auction. Sometimes called a bidder packet or due diligence package.
Bidder’s Choice: A method of sale whereby the successful high bidder wins the right to choose a property or properties from a grouping of similar or like-kind properties. After the high bidder’s selection, the property is deleted from the group, and the second round of bidding commences, with the high bidder in round two choosing a property, which is then deleted from the group and so on, until all properties are sold.
Blacklist: A list that blocks certain bidder from participating in your auction. On eBay it’s known as a “blocked bidder” list.
Broker Participation: An arrangement for third-party brokers to register potential bidders for properties being sold at auction for a commission paid by the owner of the property or the auction firm.
Buy Price or Buy it Now Price: A price that the seller agrees to sell an item. Auctions will automatically close when a buy it now option is chosen. On Ebay the “Buy it Now” option is only available at the sellers discretion and no longer exists after a first bid is made.
Buyer’s Broker: A broker who represents the buyer and, as the agent of the buyer, is normally paid for his/her services by the buyer.
Buyer’s Premium: An advertised percentage of the high bid or flat fee added to the high bid to determine the total contract price to be paid by the buyer.
Caravan Auctions: A series of on site auctions advertised through a common promotional campaign.
Carrying Charges: The costs involved in holding a property which is intended to produce income (either by sale or rent) but has not yet done so, i.e., insurance, taxes, maintenance, management.
Catalog or Brochure: A publication advertising and describing the property/ies available for sale at public auction, often including photographs, property descriptions, and the terms and conditions of the sale.
Category Listing: A list of auctions by specific category.
Caveat Emptor: A Latin term meaning “let the buyer beware.” A legal maxim stating that the buyer takes the risk regarding quality or condition of the property purchased, unless protected by warranty.
Clerk: The person employed by the principal auctioneer or auction firm to record what is sold and to whom and for what price.
Closing: The time that the last bid will be accepted – the end of the auction.
COA: Certificate of Authenticity – presents written documentation that an item is genuine.
Collusion: The unlawful practice whereby two or more people agree not to bid against one another so as to deflate value or when the auctioneer accepts a fictitious bid on behalf of the seller so as to manipulate or inflate the price of the property.
Commission: The fee charged to the seller by the auctioneer for providing services, usually a percentage of the gross selling price of the property established by contract (the listing agreement) prior to the auction.
Conditions of Sale: The legal terms that govern the conduct of an auction, including acceptable methods of payment, terms, buyer’s premiums, possession, reserves and any other limiting factors of an auction. Usually included in published advertisements or announced by the auctioneer prior to the start of the auction.
Contract: An agreement between two or more persons or entities that creates or modifies a legal relationship.
Cooperating Broker: A broker who registers a prospective buyer with the auction company, in accordance with the terms and conditions for that auction. The broker is paid a commission only if his prospect is the high bidder and successfully closes on the property. Also known as a participating broker.
Deadbeat Bidder: A bidder who does not pay for their auction winnings.
Dual Agency: The representation of opposing principals (buyers and seller) at the same time.
Due Diligence: The process of gathering information about the condition and legal status of assets to be sold.
Dutch Auction: An auction, in which multiple lots of the same item are up. Bidders can bid on both quantity and price, a.k.a. x’s the money
Escrow: A situation in which the buyer places money in a third party escrow account until both buyer and seller agree to release the funds. Usually used for higher priced items.
Estate Auction: An auction containing property of a person who has passed away.

Hammer Price: Price established by the last bidder and acknowledged by the auctioneer before dropping the hammer or gavel.
Increment: The minimum amount a bid can be increased by.
Initial Bid: The lowest amount that can be entered by the buyer. Amount is set by seller and is also known as minimum bid.
Listing Agreement: A contract between the seller and the auction house allowing an item to be listed.
Listing Broker: A real estate broker who has a listing on a property and cooperates with the auction company by allowing the auction agreement to supersede his/her listing agreement.
Live Auction: This is an auction that takes place in “Real Time” including online.
Market Value: The open market value of an item.
Maximum Bid: The upper bid limit set by the buyer when using proxy or “automatic” bidding.
MIB: Mint in box.
Minimum Bid: The smallest amount that can be bid by a buyer.
Minimum Bid Auction: An auction in which the auctioneer will accept bids at or above a disclosed price. The minimum price is always stated in the brochure and advertisements and is announced at the auctions.
Multi-Property Auction: A group of properties offered through a common promotional campaign. The properties to be auctioned may be owned by one seller or multiple sellers.
Multi-Seller Auction: Properties owned by many sellers, offered through a common promotional campaign are auctioned in a single event.
NOS: New old stock
No-Sale Fee: A charge paid by the owner of property offered at a reserve auction if the property does not sell.
NPB or Non-Paying Bidder: A bidder that does not pay for items they have won.
NM: Near Mint.
NR: No Reserve.
On-site Auction: An auction conducted on the premises of the property being sold.
OP: Out of print.
Opening Bid: The first bid offered by a bidder at an auction.
Preview: Specified date and time property is available for prospective buyer viewing and audits. Also known as Open House or Inspection.
Private Auction: An auction in which the buyer and sellers identities are not disclosed.
Proxy Bid: A method of bidding in which the computer automatically places bids for you at the lowest increment up to a maximum bid you have set.
Referring Broker: A real estate broker who does not have a listing on a property, but refers the auction company to a potential seller for an auction. Usually earns a flat fee commission for referring product to an auction company.
Regroup: A process used in real estate auctions where a bidder has the opportunity to combine several parcels of land previously selected by other bidders, thereby creating one larger parcel out of several smaller parcels. This process is often used in conjunction with bidder’s choice.
Re-listing: The process of listing an item again if it did not initially sell.
Reserve: A price set by the seller that buyers must meet before the seller is obligated to sell.
Reserve Auction: An auction in which the seller reserves the right to establish a reserve price, to accept or decline any and all bids or to withdraw the property at any time prior to the announcement of the completion of the sale by the auctioneer. See also Auction With Reserve.
Reverse Auction: An auction in which buyers post items they want and the sellers then respond.
Sale Manager: The person designated by the auction company who is responsible for organizing the details of an auction. Also known as project manager.
Sealed Bid: A method of sale utilized where confidential bids are submitted and to be opened at a predetermined place and time. Not a true auction in that it does not allow for reaction from the competitive market place.
Seller: Entity that has legal possession, (ownership) of any interests, benefits or rights inherent to the real or personal property.
Shill bidding: A process where a seller or their agent bids up their own merchandise through the use of an alternate registration. A forbidden practice!
Sniping: A bidder that places their bid in the last minutes or seconds of an auction.
Tax Sale: Public sale of property at auction by governmental authority, due to nonpayment of property taxes.
Terms: The period of time that an agreement is in effect.
Terms and Conditions: The printed rules of the auction and certain aspects of the Purchase & Sale Agreement that are read and/or distributed to potential bidders prior to an auction sale.
Time Stamp: The time you placed your first bid – used in the event of a tie.
Threshold: The highest price you are willing to pay for an item.
Tie Bids: When two or more bidders bid exactly the same amount at the same time and must be resolved by the auctioneer.
TOS: Terms of Service.
Trustee’s Sale: A sale at auction by a trustee.
Upset Price: Commonly known as the reserve price.
Vendor: The person or company actually selling an item.
Verification: The process to verify the identity and condition of an item.
Yankee Auction: An auction with multiple bids up for sale in which the winner pays the actual price bid.

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14 Feb 2010, by

Antiques Glossary

Antique: usually any object over 100 years old

Armoire: a very large and highly decorated cupboard or wardrobe

Arts and Crafts Movement: a movement which began in England, influenced by William Morris

Art Deco: the modernist style that began in Paris in the 1920s.

Art Nouveau: introduced in the latter part of the 19th century and remaining popular until the start of the First World War, it was characterised by elaborate design and curving lines. One artist Alphonse Mucha can be said to have led the movement which all began from a poster he created.

Aubusson: French tapestries produced in the town of the same name

Baroque: a hugely flamboyant style of decorating furniture and other objects popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Typical decorations used were cherubs, flowers, fruit, etc.

Biedermeier: a classical style developed in Germany in the 1820s, particularly seen in furniture which is often made of blond coloured wood

Cabriole leg: popular in the 18th century, the design of a furniture leg based on a curved animal’s leg.

Chasing: a hammered decorative technique used on metal

Chatelaine: Chains, worn at the waist, made to carry keys, a watch.

Chesterfield: a large button-backed sofa

Chiffonier: a cupboard below one large or two smaller drawers with low shelves above or a chest of drawers.

Chinoiserie: European decoration based on Chinese motifs and style, popular in the 17th and 18th centuries

Chippendale (Thomas): An 18th century English furniture maker whose name became synonymous with fine furniture of the period.

Chryselephantine: a substance made from a combination of bronze and ivory used, predominantly, by Art Deco designers

Cloisonné: a decorative technique using metal strips to enclose coloured enamels

Coffer: now used for any chest with a lid on top, once used for a travelling trunk

Commode: the French term for a chest of drawers, also used in American Victorian for a small utility chest.

Console table: a side table usually attached to a wall

Creamware: Cream coloured earthenware pottery; Wedgwood perfected the form.

Cross-banding: thin strips of veneer, cut across the grain, used to decorate furniture

Daguerreotype: A type of photograph invented by Louis Daguerre in 1839 the first photographic image in the camera obscura using asphaltum on a copper plate sensitised with lavender oil that required very long exposures.

Distressing: the process of inflicting minor damage (dents, scratches, stains) to simulate age on a new piece

Dore: A gold gilt bronze object

Duncan Phyfe: A leading American late 18th century furniture maker and designer.

Ebonised: Stained black to imitate ebony wood

Ephemera: Generally collectible items not designed to last, especially paper collectibles like postcards, photographs, posters, etc, derived from the word ephemeral, meaning of the day.

Escritoire: A French writing desk

Etui: a small case for carrying sewing items, sometimes carried on a chatelaine (see above)

Faïence: French tin-glazed pottery

Flatware: flat tableware or silverware

Flow blue: a type of blue and white pottery on which the blue pattern deliberately flows into the white background from heating of the transfer

Gadrooning: A decorative border consisting of a series of curves

Gesso: plaster and size used as a base for gilt decoration usually on pictures frames and furniture

Gilding: gold foil applied to furniture, ceramics, picture frames, etc.

Girandole: a mirror often with candle sconces attached

Grandfather clock: see longcase clock. Named such after a 19th century song, My Grandfather’s Clock

Hard paste: a hard shiny porcelain made from feldspar and kaolin (china clay), this is the true porcelain that originated in China

Hepplewhite: A style created by George Hepplewhite, who authored the book: The CabinetMaker and Upholsterer’s Guide

Hollowware: Silver that is in hollow form such as teapots and tankards, etc.

Inlay: a decorative technique where small pieces of ivory, enamel or other material is put into specially hollowed out areas on furniture and treen

Inro: Small flat Japanese boxes, usually beautifully decorated, made to hand from the obi or sash

Ironstone: A kind of strong pottery perfected and patented in the early 19th century by Miles Mason.

Japanning: because genuine Japanese lacquer was not available in Europe in the late 17th century so substitutes like shellac were used to imitate the effect

Jasperware: A fine unglazed coloured stoneware perfected by Josiah Wedgwood with raised relief cameo

Linenfold: a style of carving, used on panelling and furniture, designed to look like folded linen

Longcase clock: a floor standing tall clock

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie: Innovative and influential architect, designer of interiors, furniture and other objects and artist.

Maiolica: Italian tin-glazed pottery, usually colorfully decorated

Majolica: usually applied to English made tin-glazed pottery decorated in the style of Italian maiolica

Marquetry: decorative veneers used on furniture (see also parquetry)

Marriage: a single piece made up from more than one piece of furniture, e.g. a dresser may be made up from a low cupboard and a separate and unrelated set of shelves

Millefiori: often seen in paperweights, this technique uses colored rods fused together and then cut up and enclosed in clear glass to produce patterns

Netsuke: (pronounced netski) small carved Japanese objects which act as toggles (or buttons) to hang things from the obi (sash)

Objets de vertu: sometimes known as objects of virtue, they are small precious pretty trinkets like highly decorated gold snuff boxes, fob seals, scent bottles (note: it is a mistake to mix up the French and English terms, e.g. objects of vertu)

Ormolu: gilt-bronze used to decorative effect on furniture, clocks, etc

Over-restored: some restoration to antiques is often necessary but it has to be done with care so that all the patina and signs of age are not destroyed otherwise the piece will lose value

Papier mâché: pulped paper molded into decorative objects like trays and boxes

Parcel gilt: partly gilded (see gilding)

Parian ware: fine grain porcelain resembling marble, first produced in the mid 19th century at the Copeland factory

Parquetry: similar to marquetry but the veneers are used to form geometric patterns

Patina: the surface built up over time on a piece of furniture, or other object, from continuous polishing and use

Pediment: a triangular gable on top of a piece of furniture in the style found on top of a classical temple

Pembroke table: Possibly named after the Countess of Pembroke, these small tables with drop-leaves

Pewter: an alloy of tin and lead often used for mugs, plates, etc.

Pier glass: a tall mirror designed to hang between windows, popular in the 18th century

Pole screen: a small screen on a pole to protect a woman’s face from the heat of a fire, this was particularly important when make-up would melt if exposed to heat. The screens are often embroidered.

Porcelain: originating in China, true porcelain is made from kaolin (china clay) although in Europe it was imitated usually using white clay and ground glass to produce soft-paste porcelain

Provenance: the documented history of a piece that proves its authenticity

Putti: decorative figures of small male cherubs, much used during the Renaissance

Regency: a style popular from about 1790 to the 1840s based on neo-classical designs, however the true meaning is when George IV ruled as Regent

Renaissance: the period after the Middle Ages, from about the 14th to 16th century during which there was a rebirth in interest in classical Roman design

Restoration: the skilled repair of antiques

Sampler: a piece of embroidery, once usually done by young girls, to demonstrate their skill at stitching

Sconce: a wall mounted candlestick with polished reflecting backplate

Sheraton: Thomas Sheraton was a major designer of furniture in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Skeleton clock: a clock mounted under a glass dome which displays its mechanism

Slipware: items of pottery decorated with slip – a mixture of clay and water

Soft paste: an imitation porcelain

Stereograph: A Victorian invention, this was two almost identical pictured printed side by side and, viewed through a  stereoscope, produced a 3D image.

Tambour desk: a roll-top desk where the roll-top is made of thin strips of wood

Tester bed: a bed with a wooden canopy over it (a half tester bed is one where the canopy only covers half of it)

Transfer Printing: a technique for using a paper transfer to impose a pattern on ceramics

Treen: items made from wood

Trembleuse: a saucer with a raised ring to hold a cup steady

Underglaze: a pattern or colours applied before the glaze

Veneer: a thin sheet of often expensive wood cut up to make decorations on furniture, boxes, etc

Vetting: the process, at antiques fairs, where all goods are examined to ensure they are genuine and correctly labeled.

Vitrine: a French display cabinet

Wemyss: Scottish made pottery known for its distinctive underglaze painting

Windsor Chair: a traditional wooden chair with shaped seat and dowel spindle back and saddle seat.


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