Selling collectables: The definitive guide about how to sell at auction

Selling collectables is a highly specialised area and employing the wealth of experience provided by a major auction house invariably proves of immense benefit.

As an auction house that has embraced modern technology, collectors from around the world use the Warwick & Warwick website and our online auction catalogues to discover items of interest from a diverse range of subject areas.

As all our auctions are available to view online, it means buyers are not limited by their geographical location – ensuring your possessions are seen by the largest number of potential buyers on a local, national and international stage.

The most important thing to remember when selling collectables or treasured possessions is this:

Never sell any antiques or collectables without expert advice.

If you are unsure, please get in touch with one of our experts, who will be happy to explain how to achieve the highest sale price possible.

THE VALUATION PROCESS

How can I get a fast, accurate and reliable valuation?

When the time comes to consider selling collectables at auction, it is important to be well advised at every step of the way.

Whether you have a collection of stamps, coins, banknotes, postcards, cigarette cards, medals, die-cast toys, or model railways to sell at auction; the first step is to get them appraised by the relevant expert.

Most valuations we conduct are carried out in our Warwick showrooms, where we can refer to a library of technical books, previous sale catalogues and a database of information concerning recent realisations and sale prices. We also have a small office in Chester where collections can be lodged for transportation to our valuations department in Warwick.

Once our experts have valued your collection, we will advise you of the outcome in writing and recommend the best method of sale.

Do I have to pay for a valuation?

Valuations are free of charge and we will discuss the most practical means of obtaining a valuation with you. Small collections are usually transported to our offices by secure insured courier. Larger properties can be collected by a member of staff.

How do I know whether or not my collection has any value?

If you have inherited or been gifted a collection you may not know if it is of value. Our advice is to call us on 01926 499031 and speak to one of our expert valuers. They are each long experienced, will be able to provide initial guidelines in respect of your property, and discuss how best to proceed with a more accurate first-hand valuation.

How long will it take to value my collection?

Valuations are carried out in the order that we receive properties and the average waiting time is three weeks. If a valuation is required urgently however, we will do our utmost to adhere to your requirements.

If I don’t agree with your valuation how do I get my collection back?

There is absolutely no obligation to accept our valuation and no fees will be incurred if you decline it. However, we would ask you to pay for return delivery costs or come to our Warwick premises to collect your property. If we return a box by courier the cost is usually between £15 and £20 for most areas of the UK.

Do I need to make a list of everything I have?

No, this is not necessary. The expert who examines your property will look at everything and keep a breakdown of the valuation whenever appropriate.

How can I know that everything has been looked at when I’m not present to point things out to the expert?

As auctioneers and valuers with more than 50 years’ experience, our experts assess collections and give valuations almost every day of their working lives – and it would be most unusual if they were to miss anything. However, if there is a particular item which you wish to bring to the attention of the valuer, you are welcome to give us a call and ask to speak to the valuer or send them an email. Click to find more details about our expert valuations team now!

The collection is inherited and I have no idea what it contains, how can I trust Warwick and Warwick?

A degree of trust has to be accepted between the auctioneer and client. Warwick and Warwick started in business in 1958 and has been under the same ownership since 1981. We are members of the three most highly-recognised trade organisations in our industry, who can vouch for us and the service we provide. We have 10 experts on our staff, with a combined knowledge base spanning more than a century. Six of these have more than 25 years’ experience as a professional valuer, four of them continuously in the service of Warwick and Warwick.

Will my collection be insured?

Yes. Once the collection has been valued it will be insured free of charge at our valuation. Whilst in transit to us by a carrier which Warwick and Warwick has arranged, or by Special Delivery in the post, we can take out additional cover, free of charge – this will be over and above that provided by the courier.

As the owner of the property, we will discuss a suitable level of transit insurance with you. If you have no idea of its value, we normally suggest insurance of £500 until the property is inspected. After we have assessed your collection the level of insurance can be adjusted accordingly. Free insurance cover for your property ends when it leaves our premises.

Can you visit me in my home?

Yes, we can. If your collection is sufficiently valuable we can send a member of staff to inspect it, pack it up in our own flat pack boxes, give you a receipt and bring it back to Warwick for an accurate and precise valuation. To discuss this possibility, please call 01926 499031 today.

My collection is very large. Will you have room for it in your vehicle?

Yes, we have two large company vans and a number of estate sized vehicles at our disposal.

I am disabled and unable to pack up the collection, what can I do?

If you’re selling collectibles of sufficient value, we can send a member of staff to pack your collection on your behalf. We will give you a receipt for the collection and transport it to Warwick for valuation. If your collection is of more modest value, we can still visit you but it might involve a slight delay until we have other visits to make in the same area.

THE AUCTION AND SALE PROCESS

If I accept your valuation, what happens next?

Once you have approved our valuation Warwick & Warwick will execute the sale of your material effectively and efficiently by private treaty or auction.

Private Treaty selling

Whilst a sale by auction is an excellent method of achieving good results for popular material, it is not necessarily the best or most appropriate method for all material. Some vendors want the reassurance of knowing exactly how much they will receive for their collection, removing the uncertainties of the auction room. In this case, the services of our Private Treaty Department may be most appropriate.

Our experts can accurately determine a fair current market value for your collection and organise its sale by Private Treaty.

Once you have accepted our valuation, the amount is guaranteed and the sale is underwritten by Warwick and Warwick. A cheque is normally sent from our accounts department in Chester as soon as they receive the signed (pink) instruction form

Private treaty sales are not subject to commission and do not incur any other charges such as insurance, valuation or transportation fees.

Selling collectables at auction

Public auctions are held regularly here at Warwick and Warwick throughout the year, including specialist sales of stamps, coins, banknotes, medals, postcards, cigarette cards, toys and model railways. We can also organise specialised single-vendor sales, where appropriate.

Collections may be offered intact or broken down into constituent parts in order to maximise the result for the seller. This is where we use our skills and experience to offer a collection in its most saleable form and ensure the maximum possible realisation.

Which is better, selling at auction or a private treaty sale?

Our experts usually find that this depends largely on the property or collection which is being offered for sale. Items which are frequently encountered and easily assessed often yield the same net result whether sold by auction or private treaty. More unusual items may benefit from the exposure which an auction sale provides. Collections which are the result of one person’s passion over a period of many years are often better marketed as an intact collection by Private Treaty. In our experience, the best course of action is to let our experts suggest the method of sale that is best suited to your specific collection. You can then make an informed decision, based on all the evidence you have been presented with.

I WANT TO SELL AT AUCTION – WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?

Will you let me know my lot numbers and when they are on sale?

Yes, we will send you written notification of the auction date and your own particular lot numbers

Will you send me a catalogue of the auction?

We do not, as a matter of course, send out printed catalogues to vendors. However, you can view a full description and a scan of each of your lots on the online auction catalogue section of our website.

Can people bid on my lots on the internet?

Yes, the whole catalogue, with a scan of most lots, will be viewable on our website and there is a facility for bidders to place bids via the website.

Is it better to wait for the market to improve before selling at auction?

No-one can accurately predict the likely state of the market in the future. Most of the collectables we sell have enjoyed a very stable market for many years, and we do not foresee major price fluctuations in the near future.

AUCTION CHARGES AND FEES EXPLAINED

Whenever you sell at auction you will have to pay fees to cover the costs incurred, as outlined below:

What are the charges?

The only charge for a sale by auction on lots reserved at no more than 60% of estimate is a 15% commission charge + VAT, making a total deduction of 18% of the hammer price. There is no additional charge for insurance, lotting, valuation or transport.

Are dealers or collectors your main customers, and how wide is your customer base?

We have a very wide customer base in this country and abroad, made up of both dealers and collectors. The fact that every auction sale is viewable on our website ensures that we receive large numbers of bids from a wide range of countries, including the important Far East markets.

Is there a minimum property value you will accept for auction sale?

Properties for auction should have a minimum value of £100.

AFTER THE AUCTION SALE

Will I get a sale result notification?

Once your possessions have successfully sold at auction, we will send you notification of the results, which lists the individual lots and the price each item sold for.

Realisations are also normally available on the evening of each sale.

A settlement statement which lists the charges which you have incurred will also be included. All relevant charges are deducted before your payment is sent.

How long after the auction will I be paid?

Payment is normally made 30 days after the auction, as long as we have received settlement from the buyer. A statement of all charges you have incurred is also included, and all relevant charges are deducted from your final settlement.

How do I receive payment?

Settlement is normally by bank cheque in sterling. Other methods are possible, but any charges incurred will be debited to your account.

What if my item did not sell?

Unsold lots are usually re-offered in a future auction, often with a slightly reduced estimate. You may also elect to have your unsold material returned in which case we simply ask for the cost of insured delivery to your door.

NEED MORE ADVICE ABOUT HOW TO SELL AT AUCTION?

If you're wondering where to sell collectibles and antiques, click now and take a look at our advisory day venues for the next few months.

To take advantage of our free help and advice, please call 01926 499031 and speak to one of our valuation experts today!