Understanding Auction Terms

Please read below to familiarize yourself with auction industry terms before bidding

Absentee Bid
Absentee bids are left in advance of an auction. Bidders can call in advance to set a maximum bid amount on individual lots. Stefek’s will bid on your behalf up to that amount during the auction. You can call our office or send us an e-mail to set your absentee bid. Absentee bids are accepted until 1 hour prior to the auction start time.

As Is
Stefek’s sells all property at auction “as is,” meaning that the property is sold with all existing faults and imperfections.

Auction Catalog
Published with each auction, the catalog houses factual information about a lot offered for sale.

An auction industry professional who presides over the auction, initiating the sale of a lot by describing the item and starting the bidding. If a work sells, the auctioneer announces, “sold.” If the item does not meet its reserve or there are no bidders, the auctioneer signifies this with a “pass.”

Auction House Commission
This is the amount taken from the consignor and provided to Stefek’s once a lot is sold. Stefek’s commission is based off of the hammer price of the item.

Auction Specialist
An expert in a specific field of collecting.

Amount a buyer signals the auctioneer he/she would pay to buy the lot during the bidding process. Once the first bid is made on a lot, other buyers may offer higher bids. There are four methods to bid at Stefek’s Auctions: in person, online, phone, or absentee. Click here for details.

An individual looking to purchase a lot at an auction.

Bid Increment
The amount by which the auctioneer increases the bidding.

Buyer’s Premium
The amount that is charged to the buyer above the hammer price that is paid as part of the total purchase. Stefek’s has established percentages for the buyer’s premium which are 25%, regardless of payment method.

Condition Report
A written description of the condition of a work, prepared by Stefek’s specialists prior to an auction. Condition reports are available from Stefek’s upon request and are highly recommended.

Conditions of Sale
This important information describes the terms in which Stefek’s and the consignor agree to sell a lot to the buyer. To review Stefek’s Conditions, click here.

The owner who is transferring property to Stefek’s to act as agent on his/her behalf for sale.

Each lot is given a low and high estimate, representing the opinion of Stefek’s experts about the range in which the lot might sell at auction. Estimates are based on the examination of an item and recent auction records of comparable pieces.

Fair Warning
A warning sometimes given by the auctioneer that the hammer is about to come down on a lot. The fair warning offers one last chance to increase the bidding. If there are no subsequent bids, the auctioneer’s hammer falls and the sale is completed.

Used by the auctioneer to close the bidding process.

Hammer Price
The winning bid at an auction that a lot sold for. It is the price upon which the auctioneer’s hammer falls, determining the sale price. This price does not include the buyer’s premium.

In-person Bidding
Attend the auction in person. It is free and open to the public. Bidders can pre-register or register upon arrival. Please bring photo identification, method of payment, and (if applicable) tax exempt certificate. Once registered, bidders will receive a paddle. Doors open an hour and a half prior to the auction. To place a bid, simply raise your paddle until the auctioneer acknowledges you. If you win the auction, your paddle number is recorded alongside your bid. To pay for your purchase, you will need to bring your paddle to the payments counter.

An individual object or group of objects offered for sale at auction as a single unit.

Online Bidding
Stefek’s Auctions are administered live on LiveAuctioneers. Buyers may register to bid online on LiveAuctioneers by clicking here.

An object displaying the number assigned to a bidder when he/she registers at the auction.

Terms used by the auctioneer when a lot fails to sell at auction.

Every work that goes to auction is professionally photographed by Stefek’s for documentary and promotional purposes. Photographs appear in the catalog, and are an important way for buyers to identify lots that they wish to acquire.

Presale Exhibition
With specialists on-hand to answer all questions, Stefek’s puts lots from its sales on public display in the days before an auction.

Price Realized
Hammer price and buyer’s premium combined.

The amount a consignor sets for a lot. The lot will not be sold for less than the reserve price. Stefek’s accepts reasonable reserves on important property only.

Stefek’s results include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium.

Seller’s Commission
A commission paid by the consignor to Stefek’s, which is deducted from the hammer price.

Start Bid
The start bid can also be referred to as start price or opening bid. The lot will open at this price and is typically 75% of the low estimate.

Telephone Bidding
Many buyers prefer to bid via phone, using a Stefek’s representative who is present at the auction to relay bids to the auctioneer on their behalf. When bidding by phone, Stefek’s will call you during the auction a few lots before your specified lot is to be auctioned. You are able to bid live, with a Stefek’s phone representative acting as a liaison between you and the auctioneer.