How to Buy Antique Glassware at Live Auctions

The 3 rules of auction buying, I’ve been told, are PREVIEW, PREVIEW, and PREVIEW. After nearly 50 years of collecting, I have to agree with that statement. Almost all auction houses are selling their items “as is where is” and it is up to you to assess the condition of the item of interest. So allow plenty of preview time. Some auctions allow previewing the day before the auction. This provides an opportunity to research your items of interest to see what you should be paying for it. Many collectors believe that they are buying “wholesale” at an auction. But I have seen so many items sell for well over their retail value that I would disagree with that assumption. Keep in mind that the article is simply going to the highest bidder, and if there are 2 people who really want the same item, it can go incredibly higher than it should have.I arrive as early as possible and preview preview preview. What has worked for me is making a list of the items that I am interested in purchasing and what I am willing to pay for them. Otherwise, “auction fever” can take hold and you end up bidding on things you haven’t previewed properly. It has happened many times to me; auction fever takes hold, and I buy something that should have simply been given a decent burial at the junkyard. No matter how long I’ve been in the antique business, I am always learning, and occasionally “re-learning” the same lesson.Always keep in mind that a commission, known as the buyer’s premium, may be added to your item purchase. Where I live in Upstate New York, the buyer’s premium is usually 10%. So, for example, if you are the high bidder and get your “treasure” for $100, remember that it is really costing $110. We have auctions in this area running from NO BUYER’S PREMIUM to 10% BUYER’S PREMIUM IF PAYMENT IS BY CASH OR CHECK AND 12% BUYER’S PREMIUM IF USING A CREDIT CARD. Some auction houses have even higher buyer’s premiums so always check the auction ad to avoid “surprises”.