Glossary of auction phrases

Artists Resale Rights

This fee is charged on the resale of paintings, works of art and sculptures by living artists and for a period of up to seventy years after their death. It may also be referred to as droite de suite. It is applicable on all such works selling for a figure in excess of 1,000 euros. The fee is a percentage of the hammer price based upon a sliding scale, see table for further clarification. The rate of exchange is calculated on the day of the sale.

Auction House

A company whose business is selling items at auction.


Individual who conducts a public auction.

Auctioneer’s Book

Permanent written record of the auction detailing buyers and prices achieved completed by the auctioneer as the sale progresses.


An abbreviation often used to describe a lot that fails to sell. Such a lot is traditionally referred to as being ‘Bought In’.

Bidding Increment

The value in pounds between each bid.  In general, this figure is approximately 10% of the current bid, however, is at the discretion of the auctioneer.

Buyer’s Premium

A sum paid to the auction house following a successful bid, calculated as a percentage of the hammer price.  As a service charge, this figure would be subject to VAT paid at the current rate.

Catalogue Amendments

Alteration to a catalogue description or estimate made after catalogue production but before the auction.  Buyers are advised to familiarise themselves with any such amendment prior to bidding.  The auctioneer will announce any such amendments prior the commencement of the sale, these alterations will also be posted in the saleroom.


Personal portable property.

Commission Bid

A bid given to the auctioneer by an individual who cannot attend the sale in person.

Commission Fee

A percentage paid from the hammer price to the Auction House.  As a service charge, this figure would be subject to VAT paid at the current rate.

Condition Report

An impartial assessment of a lot, indicating faults (if any) as a guide to potential buyers unable to attend the sale view.


A range of two figures published in the catalogue against each lot.  These figures can be used as a guide for buyers and reflect the auctioneers/vendors expectations.  Ideally, the hammer price will fall at a point between these figures however the eventual hammer price will be dictated by wider interested in the room and on-line.

Hammer Price

The maximum sum bid when a lot is offered for sale.  The eventual selling price would be this figure plus buyer’s premium.

Insurance Fee

A charge based upon the hammer price or reserve figure to ensure adequate compensation should damage occur to a lot whilst at the auction house.

Internet Bid

A bid made remotely on the internet.  These can be in the form of a commission bid or as an interactive live bid.  There is normally an additional premium to be paid for this service which is added to an invoice but paid by the auction house to the providers of the internet platform.


An item or group of items offered as a single unit in an auction.

Lotting Fee

A minimum charge made in addition to a commission fee.

Open Market Valuation

An opinion of an items value based upon a willing seller willing buyer in an arm’s length transaction.

Reserve Price

A confidential pre-arranged figure agreed by the vendor and auctioneer below which the lot would not be sold. The auctioneer may bid up to this figure on behalf of the vendor.

Room Bidding

A bid from an individual on the floor of the saleroom.

Sale View

Days and times during which lots in an auction are available for examination.

Telephone Bid

A bid made on the telephone during the sale.  These bids are pre-arranged 24 hours before the start of the auction.

Paddle Number

A unique number issued to potential bidders in any single auction.  The auctioneer will ask a successful bidder for this number so they can enter it in the auctioneer’s book together with the hammer price.


A lot that has failed to sell.