How to buy

A simple step by step guide on how to buy at auction with Bonhams

Online Only Auctions


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a - Date and Time Depending on the phase of the auction one of the following is displayed:

  • the expected dates of the auction; or
  • the date and time the auction will close and countdown from one hour before the auction closes; or
  • "Ending now" once lots in the auction have started to close; or
  • the past dates of the auction.

b - Location Indicates the location is virtual from where property will be shipped (eg Online, London).

c - Status Indicates the auction is online only, including its current status (eg "In progress").

d - Registration Customers must be registered to bid. Registration takes place when you bid on your first lot.

e - My activity Customers who are actively bidding will have counts of their bidding activity displayed as:

  • winning (currently the leading bidder on a lot open for bidding);
  • losing (an underbidder on a lot open for bidding);
  • purchased (as the winning bidder of a lot closed for bidding);
  • unsuccessful (as an underbidder on a lot closed for bidding); or
  • pending (if bidder's account is not authorised).

f - Bidding activity Bidding activity is displayed on each lot. This information is personalised as follows:

  • Winning bidder (lots open for bidding):
    • Your current bid (the amount at which bidder is winning the lot)
    • Your maximum bid (the amount at which bidder is prepared to bid)
    • WITH YOU (WINNING)
  • Winning bidder (lot closed for bidding):
    • You bought this lot for (final winning bid amount)
  • Underbidders:
    • Your highest bid (the highest amount the bidder submitted)
    • AGAINST YOU (LOSING)
  • Watchers not bidding:
    • Current bid at (the current winning bid)
  • Unauthorised bidders (bids pending):
    • Current bid at (the current winning bid)
    • Your highest bid (the highest amount the bidder submitted)
    • PENDING

g - Ending from While the lot is open for bidding the date and time the lot will close is displayed. A countdown is displayed one hour before the auction closes. Individual lots may be extended if there is active bidding on the lot in the period before it closes: in these instances the time is extended and "Extended" is shown.

h - Bidding button Use the bid button to place bids. The next accepted bid will be displayed on the button if the lot is still open for bidding. Bidders can chose to bid on the next increment or place their maximum bid. Once the lot has closed for bidding the successful bidder's button will change to 'Bought' and underbidders to 'Bid'.

i - New / Maximum bid The next incremental bid will be populated in the bid screen. Bidders can change this to set their maximum bid but cannot decrease below the current winning bid amount. If a bidder does not bid on increment, the system will automatically round down to the closest incremental bid when the bid is placed.

j - Submit bid - Bids will only be submitted once this button is clicked.

FAQs

Your Account

Must I have an account to bid?

Yes. To be able to bid by any method you need to have an account and you must provide us with your full name, address, phone number, email and ID. You may also be asked to provide a bank reference.

Who else can access my account?

Only you can access your account online, so it is important you keep your user name and password secure and do not share it with anyone, as you will be responsible for all online activity on your account. Your online account is linked to Bonhams internal database so your account can be managed by appropriate staff.

Will my account details be given to a third party?

No. Bonhams do not share your details with anyone without your express permission. For additional information please see our privacy policy.

Will you email or mail me as a result of my bidding activity?

We will communicate with you by email with regard to your bids and transactions online. You may also receive mailings about Bonhams auctions and events that we think might be of interest you based on your interests and the auctions you register for. You can stop these mailings at any time by adjusting the mailing settings on your online account.

Is my account and bidding activity secure?

Data held on your account on Bonhams systems is secure and information transmitted for bidding contains no personally identifiable information (your name or other personal details). The identity of the bidders is not shared with other customers. Your current bid will be displayed to all customers while you are winning the lot, but not who is winning the lot nor the maximum amount you are prepared to bid to. For additional information please see our privacy policy.

Registration and Bidding

How soon before the start of the auction must I register?

Existing customers can normally register and bid at any time while the auction is in progress. It is recommended that new customers, or those who have not bid in the last 24 months, register at least 24 hours before the auction closes to ensure their account is authorised. We would always recommend that you register at least 24 hours before the auction closes whether you are a new customer or not.

Must I register for each auction?

Yes but you do not need to create a new account each time. The first time you register you will be asked to provide ID with your name and proof of address. For your security you may be asked to provide ID at other times, usually every 24 months.

How do I bid?

Once you have logged in use the bid buttons on the auction or lot to open a dialogue where you can place and submit your bid. You may be asked to log in again to verify your details before you can start bidding. When you bid you can chose to bid on the next increment or bid ahead by placing your maximum bid. If you choose to place a bid above the next increment the web site will bid on your behalf up to that amount, but it will not continue to bid once the bidding has passed this amount.

Can I place bids if my account is not authorised to bid?

You can place bids however the automatic system will not accept or implement your bids until your account is authorised. Your bids online will have a 'Pending' indicator and you will receive an email advising you of your pending bids including what action you must take to validate them: it is your sole responsibility to ensure that the correct information is submitted in order to activate your bids before the close of the auction. By the time your account is authorised, the current bid might have already moved beyond your bid.

Are my bids confidential?

Yes, all bids submitted are confidential. If you are the winning bidder your current bid will be displayed as the current bid value but not who is winning the lot. If you have placed a maximum bid, this will not be shared with other bidders.

How do I know my bid has been accepted and I am winning the lot?

If you are logged in the screen will show that you are the winning bidder in green text: "WITH YOU (WINNING)". The web site accepts the first bid to come in, so the bid you place may not be accepted even if it is the winning bid amount. From time to time you will be notified by email of the current state of your bids, including a summary 24 hours before the auction starts to close.

How do I know if I have been outbid?

If you are logged in the screen will show that you are the losing bidder in red text: "AGAINST YOU (LOSING)". You will be notified by email as soon as you are outbid.

How will I know the next bidding increment?

Bonhams operates in fixed increments which are as outlined below. The current accepted bid is shown on the screen to all visitors to the site, and the next bid being sought will display on the 'Next bid' button.

Bid Amount Increments
5 - 100 5, 10
100 - 200 10
200 - 500 20, 50, 80, 100
500 - 1,000 50, 100
1,000 - 2,000 100
2,000 - 5,000 200, 500, 800, 1,000
5,000 - 10,000 500, 1,000
10,000 - 20,000 1,000
20,000 - 50,000 2,000, 5,000, 8,000, 10,000
50,000 - 100,000 5,000, 10,000
100,000 - 200,000 10,000
200,000 - 500,000 20,000, 50,000, 80,000, 100,000
500,000 - 1,000,000 50,000, 100,000
1,000,000 - 2,000,000 100,000
2,000,000 - 5,000,000 200,000, 500,000, 800,000, 1,000,000
5,000,000 - 10,000,000 500,000, 1,000,000

Can I cancel my bid?

No, all bids placed in online only auctions are final and binding. If you have any questions please contact Customer Services.

Can I increase my bid?

You can increase your bid at any time while the auction is in progress and the lot is still open for bidding.

Can I decrease my bid?

Provided your bid has not been used you can reduce your bid to the current winning bid amount. You cannot reduce your bid below the current winning bid.

What does 'Extended' mean?

In the event that there is active bidding at the closing time for the lot, the bidding time for the lot will be extended. The count-down timer resets how much time is left to bid on the lot, and "Extended" will be shown next to the count-down timer. Each lot may be extended individually, it will not extend all the lots in the auction.

What does 'Pending' mean?

If an account has not been authorised you can place bids however the automatic system will not accept or implement your bids until your account is authorised. Bids will have a 'Pending' indicator.

How do I know that I have bought the lot?

If you place the last bid accepted, the bid button will change to 'Bought'. If you were unsuccessful the bid button will state 'Bid'. The winning bidder will be sent an invoice for all their purchased lots, usually within 24 hours of the auction ending.

I bid the winning amount, but the lot was not sold to me?

In the event of a tie in bids submitted, bids will be accepted in the order they are placed. If a customer has placed a maximum higher than your bid, they will be the winning bidder: in these instances you will be told you are losing the lot while the auction is in progress and have the opportunity to place higher bids. Other customers maximum bids will never be disclosed to you.

What are the conditions of business?

Conditions for bidding in Bonhams auctions can be found in the Conditions of Sale. Bidders are bound to the normal Conditions of Sale for each auction. Conditions of Sale may vary and you should always check the Conditions of Sale prior to bidding.

Can I watch the auction without bidding?

Yes, any customer may follow the auction. Current and next bids are displayed to all visitors to the site. Remember, in order to bid you must register: if you are a new customer or have not had your account authorised, we recommend that this is at least be 24 hours before the auction closes.

Can I attend the auction in person or telephone bid?

No. Online only auctions are virtual and there is no auction room set up. There may be a viewing period before the auction which will be specified for each auction.

Is it possible that I may end up bidding against myself?

Every precaution has been taken to ensure that you do not bid against yourself. The automatic system will only increase your current bid if there is another person bidding against you. However it is your sole responsibility to ensure that you do not bid against yourself if you have more than one account. If you are concerned that you have bid against yourself, please contact Customer Services.

I am the successful buyer, what happens now?

You will be sent an invoice by mail or email, usually within 24 hours of the auction. However, if you would like to pay for your purchase immediately you can do so by calling Customer Services.

Must I collect my purchases or will Bonhams ship to me?

It is each customer's sole responsibility to collect or arrange appropriate shipping which can be facilitated on request. The location of the objects are identified by the auction's virtual location (eg 'Online, London'). If you have any questions about shipping items, please contact Customer Services before bidding.

The amount on my invoice is higher than the amount I bid, why?

If you are the successful bidder on a lot, a Buyer's Premium is added to the winning bid price of each individual Lot purchased, at the rates set out in the Conditions of Sale. The winning bid price is made up of the Hammer Price, plus the Buyer's Premium and VAT, sales or local tax thereon, and VAT, sales or local tax and import duty on the hammer price if indicated. Shipping and packing fees are the responsibility of the buyer. Local transport and storage charges may apply if your Lot is not collected by a specified time. If you are exporting your property, import taxes, customs duties and other fees may apply at the country of destination.

Technical and Support

What web browsers are supported?

Bonhams web site runs on most recent modern web browsers. It has been tested on Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Should you need to report a problem with online only auctions please contact Customer Services giving full details of the problem, including the browser (and version of the browser) you use.

Can I bid in online only auction from my mobile?

Bonhams web site can be used from most mobile devices provided there is an adequate network or wi-fi connection.

Who can I contact to help me if I encounter problems?

Your online only auction experience should be a smooth one, but if you do encounter problems you should first check you have an internet connection and a good download speed. You may also try to reloading the page or restarting your browser. If the problem persists or you require any assistance using online only auctions please contact Customer Services.

What information do I need to give Bonhams to troubleshoot?

You may need to give the following to help identify any problems you encounter: the name and date of the auction; the number of any lot you are bidding on; the amount you bid to; your account number; the steps you took; the browser, including version, you were using when the problem occurred.

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