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How to bid (live auction)

Our step-by-step guide on how to place a bid in advance (also called 'absentee bidding') and how to bid in a live auction.

Bidding for the first time with Bonhams? You need to create an account and get approved before you can participate in an auction.

Place a bid in advance

1. Login to your account at the top of the Bonhams website, or via the Bonhams app

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2. Register for the auction you want to bid in

3. Find the lot (item) you want to bid on

On the lot page, choose the maximum price you'd like to bid from the dropdown menu, then click 'Place Bid'. Otherwise, press cancel.

Please note: If you haven't registered, you will not see the dropdown menu. You will be directed to the Bidder Registration page when you try to place your bid.

4. Re-confirm your bid by clicking 'Confirm Bid'

5. You have now placed your bid on the lot

Changed your mind? You can increase or decrease your absentee bid until the live auction starts.

6. You can choose to stop here

When the auction is in progress, the auctioneer will place bids on your behalf until you reach your maximum bid price or win the lot at a lower price. If you are outbid, you will be informed by email or push notification on the Bonhams app, with the option to increase your max bid. We recommend you follow the live auction in case you want to quickly increase your max bid.

Bidding in a live auction

1. Join a live auction any time after it has started by clicking the 'Watch Live' button on the auction page

You can watch the auctioneer from the live-stream video on the top corner of the page.

2. To bid on a lot, place the next highest bid increment by clicking on the 'Bid [price]' button

3. Re-confirm your bid by clicking on the 'Confirm [price]' button

Otherwise, press cancel.

4. Your bid will then be sent to the auctioneer. If you try to place a bid but cannot see your paddle number in the list, it may be because the auctioneer has accepted someone else's bid at that increment

5. If you are the highest bidder, there will also be a message in green confirming 'You are winning'

You cannot bid again on the lot if you are the highest bidder.

6. If you are outbid by another bidder, the 'You are winning' message disappears and you have the option to place another bid

7. When bidding is about to finish, the auctioneer may say "fair warning", "last call" or "last chance", which will also appear on the page

This is your chance to place final bids.

What happens when I lose?

The page will confirm the lot has sold and the winning bid price. You do not need to take any further action.

What happens when I win?

The page will confirm you have won the lot and the final bid price. Please note this price does not include buyer's premium or taxes. You will be emailed an invoice within three hours of the auction ending, containing next steps for after a Bonhams auction.

If you'd like assistance on bidding, please contact your local Bonhams Client Services

Related guides

How to bid in an online-only auction

How to bid by telephone