Buying At Auction

It really is a buyer’s market when you attend a Thomas Watson auction to make a purchase. We can facilitate your purchases in person, on the phone or even online. Simply choose the method that is most suitable for you.

Our auctioneers and valuers can also help facilitate advance bidding to help you secure precious lots. We strongly value the importance of personal service, placing it at the heart of all interactions with our clients.

The buying information contained within the upcoming sub-sections applies to all purchases of antiques, fine art, jewellery, collectables and quality furnishings. Take a careful look at the Buying At Auction section for all of the various factors that you need to consider when making a purchase.

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Thomas Watson has compiled a comprehensive list of information that can help you when buying at auction. It doesn’t matter whether you are purchasing fine art or quality furnishings, this information from our auctioneers and valuers will aid you greatly. When buying at auction, there are a number of different methods available to you.

We are open for viewing before an auction Saturday, 10am-1pm; Sunday, 10am-1pm; Monday, 9am-4pm.

** Proof of identity (passport; driving licence or utility bill) and credit reference information (credit/debit card details or alternative) required for first-time buyers**

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Bid in Person: Attend an auction in person to make bids on lots. Register at the Thomas Watson office in advance of the auction that you wish to attend.

Absentee/Commission Bidding: Submit a commission bid in advance through a bidding form or use the online bidding system. Your bid will be executed on your behalf as cheaply as possible bearing in mind any reserve price and other bids. Commission bids will be rounded down to suit bidding increments.

Telephone Bidding: This facility is only available by prior arrangement with the Auctioneers and not available for online only auctions.  The Auctioneers cannot accept responsibility for any neglect or default in executing or failing to execute telephone bids. This service is only available for lots with a low estimate of £200 or over.

Live Internet Bidding: Thomas Watson partner with to provide an online auction service (detailed information contained with Bid Live section of this site). A charge of 4.95% percent of the hammer price (plus VAT) (in addition to the regular buyer's premium) is made for internet bidding. 

There are a number of factors for purchasers to consider during the buying process:

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Collection & Storage.

Collection: Purchases can be collected during the sale where practicable, or within two days of the sale.

Storage & Charges: Furniture and Large Items will be removed to store if not collected within a few days of the auction.  Storage Charges will be levied on all Lots not collected and charged at £1 +VAT per Lot per day for small items, and, £2 +VAT per Lot per day for large items.  Large items may incur a handling/removal fee of £10 +VAT.

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Packing and Shipping.

Thomas Watson recommend the packing/postal services of Mail Boxes Etc. Newcastle. Reach them by telephone on 0191 2220018 or by e-mail via

Condition Reports All faults/defects are not described.  Bidders are encouraged to satisfy their own authenticity and condition concerns, though condition reports can be given when appropriate. Please regard all weights and measurements given in the catalogue as approximate.

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Buyers Premium: 25% (inclusive of VAT)

VAT: An asterisk (*) indicates that VAT is payable by the purchaser at the standard rate imposed by current UK law on the hammer price as well as being an element in the buyer’s premium.

Royalty Payments: Artists Resale Royalty (AAR) charge will apply to buyers on qualifying artwork with a hammer price in excess of €1,000. Qualifying Artwork for 'ARR' will be highlighted in our catalogue description.

Payment and Clearance: Payment for all is due immediately after the sale. We accept debit cards, credit cards and cash up to a value of £9,000. Please note, 'person not present' payments are subject to a maximum of £500.

Please contact us if you require any further information about buying at auction.