If you’ve never been to an auction before, it can seem a little intimidating, and sound like everyone is speaking a foreign language: lots, bids, registration, hammer price, buyer’s premium, absentee… Our solution: take our Auctions 101 class. We promise all students an A!


In this class we’ll cover the following. Raise your hand if you have any questions.


PART I: Before You Bid

What do I need to do, and what does “register to bid” mean?

Where does all the stuff come from?

PART II: The Auction Action


How is the stuff sold? Can I just buy stuff outright? How do I bid?

When do I pay? What forms of payment do you take?

Buyer’s Premium & Sales Tax
Why am I paying more than the selling price (what the heck is a Buyer’s Premium)? I’m from Delaware, I don’t pay sales tax.

I just paid, can I take my item? What if my item doesn’t fit in my car can I get it later?

PART III: Other Scenarios

Absentee and Telephone Bidding
I can’t be here for the auction, but I really want that item! What can I do?

PART IV: Glossary of Auction Terms

Before You Bid:

What do I need to do?

First, bring your driver’s license with you. When you get here, our recommendation is to first look around the showroom a little and see what’s there! If the auction is already going on, listen for a little to get a feel for the auctioneer’s style. Then you should make your way to the office (it’s painted blue) to register to bid at the auction.


What does “register to bid” mean?

In order to bid at the auction, you need a bidder’s number. That unique number is assigned to you, so anything you bid on and win at the auction will be identified by your number. To get your bidder’s number we need some information about who you are, so we’ll scan your driver’s license (name, address & driver’s license # is all we get), and take your phone number and email address (email is optional, but see Absentee or Telephone Bid for why it’s a good idea). Then we give you a bidder’s number card. It’s that simple and painless. And we NEVER share your info with anyone.

One note about your bidder’s number: it’s only good for that auction, so the next time you come, you’ll have to swing by the office and sign in to get that week’s bidder number. All we’ll need is your phone number (the last 4 digits to be exact), to sign you in and give you a bidding number.

Where does all the stuff come from?

We work with people settling local estates, people who are moving and downsizing, collectors who want to divest, and others. Rather than them selling their stuff on their own, we sell their items for them in our showroom. That’s how we’re able to offer such a range of merchandise each Friday. If it was in someone’s home, you’ll find it at the auction.

The Auction Action

How is stuff sold?

Everything will be sold at the live auction throughout Friday afternoon and evening. It typically takes us about 8-9 hours to sell everything in the building each week. Items are sold in what the auction industry calls “Lots”, so each item or each group of items that goes up for sale at any one time is considered a Lot. If you want to buy any lot, you’ll have to bid–to compete with anyone else in the room who also wants to buy that lot–by indicating how much you’re willing to pay for it. Our auctions are “Absolute” auctions, which means every lot sells to the highest bidder, and there is no reserve bid (an amount the lot must meet before it can be sold).


Are there any guarantees?

No, there are no guarantees about any item in the auction. Everything we sell came from someone’s home. You are responsible for examining anything you’re interested in before you bid. All items in the auction are sold “AS IS, WHERE IS”, meaning everything is sold in exactly the condition you see it in.


Can I just buy things like at a store?

No. Everything is sold by bidding during the auction.


Can I bring stuff in to sell?

Everything in the auction is approved prior to the auction by our evaluators. If you have things to sell, send us an email or give us a call to discuss.


Well then, how do I bid?

Here’s a typical lot play-by-play:

The floor announcer picks up an item (say, a ladder-back chair). He/she will describe it briefly, and the auctioneer will “open the bidding” by asking for an amount of money (say $10). If you want the chair and would pay $10 for it, hold up your bid card. The auctioneer will point or nod toward you to indicate he/she has your bid, and will immediately ask for more money (say $12.50) and look around the room for another bidder. If the auctioneer gets a bid for $12.50, he/she will come back to you asking for a new higher amount (say $15). If you still want the chair for $15, nod or wave your bid card. The bidding will go back and forth with bidders jumping in or dropping out as the asked-for amount gets higher. If you’re the last bidder, you win the lot for whatever your last bid was (also called the “hammer price”). The auctioneer will announce “SOLD!” and will call out your bidder’s number.


I won! Now what?

Congratulations! If your item is small, the auction staff will probably bring it right out and hand it to you. Larger pieces of furniture will be moved to the side away from where they’re selling. One rule applies to both scenarios: you are responsible for your items from the moment the auctioneer says “SOLD” and calls out your bidder number.

If there are still items you want to bid on, keep bidding. If you’re all finished for the night, make your way back to the office, and we’ll have your bill ready for you.


What forms of payment do you take?

We accept Cash, personal check, VISA, MasterCard, and most debit cards.


Wait! The invoice amount is more than what I bid. What gives?

Our auction (like other auctions) charges a small fee to the buyer (the industry term is Buyer’s Premium) on top of the selling price of the item. The Buyer’s Premium is a small percentage (in our case 18%, discounted to 15% for payment by Cash or Check) of the selling price, which is added to the selling price to get your purchase amount. The auction house keeps this fee, which allows us to keep our sellers’ commission rates competitive so we can keep bringing in great merchandise for you, yet still meet our overhead expenses.

You actually pay this fee all the time on just about anything you buy in a store, but it’s hidden in the already-set store price tag. Since you set the selling price at the auction, the fee is more visible.


What about the PA State Sales Tax?

Since the auction takes place in Pennsylvania all the merchandise is sold in Pennsylvania, and is subject to Pennsylvania state sales tax. Even if you’re from Delaware, sorry. If you’re buying for your business and plan to re-sell the item and you have a PA tax exemption number, we’ll add that to your registration and you won’t have to pay the tax.


Now that I’ve paid, can I just take my item(s)?

Yep. If you need help loading anything, just ask any of our staff. We’re happy to help.


My item is too big for my car, I have to borrow a truck. When else can I pick it up?

We’re open on Saturdays from 9am-3pm; Mondays – Wednesdays from 8am-5pm. It’s really helpful for us if you can have big items removed from the showroom by Wednesday, since we’ll be setting up for the next auction.

Other Scenarios

I can’t stay for the auction, but I really want that item! What can I do?

In a nutshell: tell us what item you’re interested in, and how much you’re willing to bid, and we’ll bid for you. We have a form you can fill out either in-person at the showroom, or online. If you want to bid live during the auction but can’t attend, we can set up a telephone bid. We’ll call you just before your item comes up, and bid with you live on the telephone.

That’s it in a nutshell. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We love new customers, and are always happy to help a newbie catch auction fever!

Glossary of Auction Terms:

Absentee Bid: A bid you place before the auction if you are unable to attend the auction. The maximum amount you’d be willing to pay for an item (AKA: lot). A staff member will do the bidding on your behalf, and we’ll notify you by email after the auction if you were the highest bidder for your item(s).


Absolute Auction: A type of auction in which every item (lot) sells to the highest bidder, with no reserve.


Appraisal: Briggs Auction conducts Estate Appraisals, which are written and notarized documents prepared by our appraiser listing the fair market value (what people are typically willing to pay) of personal property (someone’s belongings). Typically used for estate tax purposes.


AS IS/Where Is: Auction term used to indicate that all items will be sold exactly how & where you see them at the time they are offered for sale. No guarantees.


Auction: A public sale in which goods are sold to buyers (bidders) competing against each other to until the bidder willing to pay the highest price gets the item.


Bid: The dollar amount a bidder is willing to offer for a lot.


Buyer’s Premium: A percentage of the selling price that will be added to the selling price to determine the bidder’s total purchase price


Consignor: The seller of the items.


Hammer Price: The final bid amount when the auctioneer says “SOLD!”. Many auctioneers actually bang a gavel or other “hammer”-type instrument at that moment.


Knock Down: The end of the bidding, AKA the “SOLD!” moment. Also named from the banging of the gavel when the auctioneer closes the lot.


Lot: One item or group of items that is put up for bid at any one time. For example: a sofa, a 6-piece bedroom set, a tray of costume jewelry, etc. would each be considered one lot.


Personal Property: The actual items someone owns, as opposed to “Real” property, which is land/buildings (i.e. Real Estate). Our weekly auctions are Personal Property auctions.


Reserve: A confidential amount specified in advance of the auction by the seller and/or auction house below which an item may not be sold. Briggs Auction, Inc. does not use reserves.


Telephone Bid: Bidding in real time over the telephone during the auction if you are unable to attend the auction in person.