When you want tips for buying antiques at auction, turn to an insider. We asked Tessa Steinkamp, auctioneer and director of auctions at New Orleans Auction Galleries, to share the goods.
Why buy at auction? Auction houses are great resources for one-of-a-kind and hard-to-find items, including antiques, art, estate jewelry, and vintage furs. Because they handle estates and private collections, they offer access to things that have remained in families for generations.
What are the estimated values based on? They are based on several factors, including an object’s rarity, condition, authenticity, provenance, and historical significance. Specialists work with consignors to research and appraise each item based on current market values, which can fluctuate over time.
How do you prepare to bid? All items are sold as is, so it’s important to do your homework. Make sure to read the full catalog description, and never hesitate to ask questions beforehand. Auction houses hold exhibitions allowing potential buyers to inspect items in person. If you cannot attend, request a condition report and additional photos of the item that interests you.
Do you have to be present to bid? No. You can bid from anywhere via online, absentee, or telephone bidding. Buyers must submit absentee or telephone bids in advance, and pre-register for online bids.
What is the most common mistake a buyer makes when attempting to buy at auction? Not being aggressive enough. I hear so many comments from people who regret not going after something they had their heart set on.
Plan your trip to New Orleans Auction Galleries and see their upcoming auctions.
By Margaret Zainey Roux | Photography by Sara Essex Bradley