Buying And Selling At Auctions – Tips For The Antiques Lover

Tips For Buying At Nautical and Antique Auctions

This is the last in our series on buying at auctions; we hope you have found the tips and insights both helpful and action-oriented. You can find the First Article in the series here, and read the Second installment here.

If you are a fan of nautical and antique items, heading to an auction may be right up your alley. (Remember, an antique is typically defined as an item being over 100 years old.) With that said, you will have a much better experience if you know what to expect. Here are five tips that will ensure you get the most from the experience.

Attend A Preview

When there are auctions that are for larger items, auction houses tend to set up a preview so people can get a solid idea of what it is they are bidding on. This is especially common when it comes to nautical auctions. There is no way that you should place a bid on something unless you are perfectly aware of what it is you are getting into. Even if you view a catalog and everything seems to be legitimate, it is still a good idea for you to attend a preview event.


Antique Ship’s Compass- Learn more about vintage compasses here

Make sure that you are discreet when you are attending a preview. It would be a colossal mistake to show interest in a particular item since this means that you may alert someone of your intentions and give someone else the idea that this item is ideal. Be subtle and you will be able to reduce the chances of having some unwanted competition.

Read The Conditions

You should never make a purchase without thoroughly reading the conditions of the sale. There is something inherently wrong with buying a nautical item from an auction without reading all of the fine print. Imagine buying an item that is being sold as-is and you don’t realize this at the time of purchase. You will not be able to get a refund if the conditions specified that this was a final sale and there are no exceptions. You can avoid this fate if you are mindful and you read everything before you buy. You may also be interested in auction laws in various states if you have questions on this subject.

Verify Payment Methods

Make sure that the payment method you intend to use is accepted by the auction house in question. There are many people who would prefer making purchases of items with a personal check or credit card. Unfortunately, there are some places that only allow buyers to pay for their purchases with cash and/or cashier’s checks. You do not want to show up ready to make a purchase and you are not allowed to do so. Giving them a call ahead of time would be a wise decision.

Stick To Your Max

When bidding on an item, it is a good idea to set a maximum prior to the start of the auction. Even if you want an item very much, you should walk away if you notice that your maximum has been exceeded. This can be very hard to do when you see a desirable item, but it is necessary if you don’t want to end up paying more than an item is worth and/or you can comfortably afford.

Buy In The Afternoon

If there is an auction that is running for most of the day, try buying things that are on sale later in the afternoon. Most of the people who have been there since morning will have run out of money by then. As a result, you will be able to get a much better deal.

There are auctions held every day where valuable maritime items are sold. If you have an interest in attending one of these auctions, it is wise to prepare yourself ahead of time to avoid any issues. As long as you follow all of the advice that was given to you here, you should be able to make a purchase without incident.

There are many reputable auction houses that accommodate both in-person and online bids, and we recommend Boston Harbor Auctions if you are looking for an antique auction. Specializing in nautical antiques, they have a comprehensive selection of, and expertise in, these types of events. Call them for questions on appraising antiques you wish to sell, or to participate in one of their auctions.


Because appraising is an important part of the buying and selling process, we want to include this video as an introduction for those interested:

Thank you again for reading our series on auctions; be sure to check back soon for our next article postings at our homepage.