How to Get Top Bids For Your Antique Auction

Get Top Bids For Your Antiques Auction

Selling your antiques and collectibles online is a convenient and easy way to reach a global market of buyers. But in order to get top dollar for your items, you need to have the best possible presentation. Before you list, take the time to prepare with these tips.

Do your research before listing. If you’re a novice collector, know that informed bidders love it when antiques sellers don’t bother to research their items before putting them up for sale! Know what you have and what your item is worth. Get an appraisal if needed from an unbiased expert who does not want to buy your object. Use books on antiques and collectibles, websites, forums, and conversations with other dealers and sellers to establish what you're selling before you make an effort to auction it off.

Collect your notes together and write a clear and detailed description. Think like the buyer: what would you want to know about the item? Try to describe the item as if you were speaking to someone on the phone. Consider even listing the age, era, original retail price and place of purchase (if known). List any stains, cracks, faults, or other damage.

List the item in its proper category; use a sub-category if possible to be even more specific. (If you do not find the proper category in the World Class Antiques database, use our Suggest a Category feature to propose a new category of products).

Use keywords in your listing title to make your item stand out. Compare the following item headlines: "Antique Clock" versus "Gorgeous Walnut 1865 Antique German Lenzkirch 2-Weight Wall Clock." Which is more likely to grab your attention? Use descriptive words to encourage buyers to click on your listing.

One of the most important factors for the success of an online auction is the photography. The seller wants to see what he or she is bidding on. Choose a room or location with good light, and using a contrasting or white background, take several high-quality photos, showing the piece from different angles. Be sure to photograph any imperfections or damage as well as unique features. (Before uploading, read about our Image Requirements for Marketplace Listings).

Solid research combined with a great headline, description and photos will ensure your listing draws the attention and bids of interested buyers. Read on for specific tips based on the type of antique or collectible you’re selling.

Specific tips for clothing:

Identify the fabric. Some buyers collect vintage clothing, others like to wear it. If the care tag text has worn away, ask a cleaner or fabric store if they can identify the fabric. If the care tags are still legible, note the cleaning instructions. Describe how the item feels when it is worn if you can, and note the measurements (vintage sizes are wildly different from modern ones!) Since many buyers purchase for nostalgia purposes, when describing the item, include any unique facts or the story behind the piece. Before photographing the item, repair any buttons or loose threads, and use a mannequin if possible.

Specific tips for vintage toys:

Sometimes, the trickiest part is properly identifying the toy. Often the item lacks the original box, or the maker name, logo, or other graphics have been worn off by years of play. Listing an "old metal toy truck" likely won’t result in a bidding war, so it’s important to do your research before you list to make it worthwhile. There are excellent price guides and reference books available on the subject; if you’re still stuck, try asking for help in one of the many online forums, discussion boards, or social media groups. Be specific, and include a photo, and you might be rewarded with an ID, and maybe even a value, before you attempt to sell.

Specific tips for furniture:

Shipping furniture can be expensive, so consider offering local pick-up or drop-off options in your auction. If you are shipping, be sure to research actual costs beforehand, so you don’t lose money (too low) and potential bidders aren’t scared off (too high). When listing, be sure to clean the item up as much as possible before photographing, in terms of surface dirt, cobwebs, and the like.

Specific tips for jewelry:

When it comes to jewelry, lingo matters. Learn the terminology, because if you don’t know what something is specifically called, or what a mark means, you may use incorrect terms and miss potential buyers. The ideal jewelry listing provides a good deal of information, preferably in bullet points, using short sentences or phrases. Be sure to spell out the piece’s detail, qualities, and don’t forget the advantages – the buyer will get a lot of attention wearing it, it will add value to their collection, it is the perfect anniversary gift, etc!

Ready to get started? Head over to our Marketplace to learn more about selling and auction options.

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