Decoding Auction Lingo: A Guide to Understanding the Language of Bidding


Auctions can be exciting and dynamic events, but for newcomers, the specialized language used in the auction industry can be somewhat bewildering. Fear not, though, as we're here to demystify the world of auction lingo. Whether you're a seasoned collector or a first-time bidder, understanding these terms will help you confidently navigate the auction process.


1.            Lot:

o             Definition: A group of items sold as a single unit.

o             Explanation: Lots are often used to sell collections or similar items together.

2.            Catalog:

o             Definition: A printed or online listing of all the items available in an auction.

o             Explanation: The catalog provides detailed information about each item, helping bidders make informed choices.

3.            Increment:

o             Definition: The minimum amount by which a bid must increase.

o             Explanation: Bids typically rise in fixed increments, making the process fair and orderly.

4.            Buyer's Premium:

o             Definition: An additional fee, calculated as a percentage of the hammer price, paid by the winning bidder.

o             Explanation: This fee contributes to the auction house's revenue and covers their services.

5.            Staggered Closing:

o             Definition: A technique used to prevent last-minute bids by extending the closing time of individual lots if new bids are placed shortly before the scheduled closing time.

o             Explanation: Staggered closing ensures a fair opportunity for all bidders to place their final bids.

6.            Auto-Extend:

o             Definition: A feature that automatically extends the closing time of an auction if new bids are placed near the scheduled closing time.

o             Explanation: Auto-extend ensures that all bidders have a fair chance to place their bids and reduces the likelihood of "sniping."

7.            Bid Price:

o             Definition: The final winning bid for an item at auction.

o             Explanation: This is the price at which the item is sold, excluding any additional fees.

8.            Transfer Fee:

o             Definition: A fee charged for transferring ownership of an item from the seller to the buyer.

o             Explanation: This fee covers administrative costs associated with the transfer process.

9.            Watchlist:

o             Definition: A feature that allows bidders to track specific items they are interested in without having to place a bid on the item.

o             Explanation: Any watchlisted item will be compiled in a list for you to conveniently bid on when you are ready.  You will also automatically get a notification the day the item ends, should you turn that feature on in your preferences.

10.         Affiliate:

o             Definition: A licensed auctioneer or auction firm company that resells l items for local sellers in your community. 

o             Explanation: Affiliate auction contacts are your resource to aid you in bidding and picking up your items.


Auction lingo doesn't have to be intimidating. With this guide, you're now better equipped to participate in auctions confidently. So, grab your catalog, understand the terms, and immerse yourself in the thrilling world of auctions!