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What to expect from selling at your first auction

Hannah Widdop

The prospect of selling your possessions at auction for the first time can be a daunting one if you don’t know what to expect. Here at Potteries Auctions, we host regular auctions both in-person across our two saleroom sites as well as online, that allow you to access an incredible audience of eager bidders and avid collectors both locally and all over the globe that are interested in giving your pre-loved items a new home – without you having to lift a finger!

From listing the items to getting them to their new owner once the hammer falls, we take care of all the hassle of selling your items at auction for you. Whether you’re looking to sell individual pieces or whole collections, we can collect items for auction from anywhere in the UK, and we can also handle large collections from all over the world, so you can sit back and relax knowing that you’re in capable hands that have a wealth of experience of selling items with great success.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about auction selling if you’re a first timer and what to expect from the experience. You’ll be an experienced auction seller in no time!

How to get your items valued for auction

The first step in selling at auction is getting the items you’re interested in selling valued. This valuation will determine the estimated value (disclosed to bidders, a ballpark figure of what we believe the piece to be worth) and auction reserve (undisclosed to bidders, the minimum price that an item needs to meet in order for it to sell) placed on your item. These figures are based on a myriad of factors depending on the department your piece falls under, but generally is influenced by the condition and rarity of the piece.

Please bear in mind before you enquire that the turnaround from getting your items appraised to seeing them up for auction can take some time. We ask that items are in at least five weeks prior to any given auction to allow our team the time necessary to lot them up, take photographs and to advertise the sale.

At Potteries Auctions, we offer a variety of free auction valuation services both in-person and online:

In-person valuation days

We host two valuation days a week, one every Tuesday at our Silverdale saleroom and one every Thursday at our Cobridge saleroom.Book an appointment and bring along any items you’re considering selling for a free, no obligation in-person valuation with our team of experts. For more information on how to find each of our showrooms, click here.

Due to popular demand, we have also started to offer a private valuation service for especially high value premium items. Please contact us directly to arrange an appointment by emailing

If you’re happy to sell your items at auction with Potteries Auctions, we will give you a receipt of the items you leave with us from the valuation day and, prior to the sale, you’ll receive a pre-sale advice note and a catalogue of the sale.

Virtual valuations

If you’re unable to visit us in-person, we also offer online valuation services via email and WhatsApp so that we can appraise your items no matter where you’re based, whether that be further afield in the UK or even internationally.

Please be aware that, due to the increased cost and resources involved with handling overseas items, we only handle complete or significant collections from worldwide sellers rather than single items, with exception to rare British Pottery items.

  • The online valuation process
    • Send any photographs to us via email or WhatsApp, along with any further details you can provide such as make, model, model number, measurements and item condition
    • You will receive a response from one of our valuers within 48 hours who will advise on your items/collections
    • We may request more details in order to roughly estimate the value of your pieces (we can confidently provide accurate estimates once we see your items in person)
    • If you are satisfied with your rough estimates, then our valuer will advise on shipping your items to us, as well as selling fees and sale dates
  • Email valuations

For valuations and advice on selling a collection, send us an email on or

  • WhatsApp valuations

Get in touch with Potteries Auctions via WhatsApp by messaging us on 07864 667940. Please note that is a messaging service only, we will not accept calls on this number. For any enquiries over the phone, please call us on 01782 638100.

All of our auctions are exceptionally well advertised in relevant publications and on websites both nationally and internationally so, together with our reputation as experts in our field, your collectibles are in the right hands to meet their highest potential. Just leave the rest to us!

How do I get paid for my items after the auction ends?

Three to four weeks after the auction, we will send you an bank transfer and a statement of your items that have sold.

What happens if my items don’t sell at auction?

Should some of your items not sell, we will automatically enter them into our next suitable sale. If your items remain unsold after two auctions then we will contact you to collect your items, or if you’re not interested in keeping the unsold items then we will donate them to charity for you.

What are the selling fees and why do you charge them?

Put simply, we have to charge selling fees because we’re a business and our staff need to be able to live, and we also have to charge VAT fees to keep the taxman happy too! Our fees cover paying our knowledgeable valuers for their time and expertise, the time it takes to photograph and list each individual lot for sale in our catalogues, as well as the time and effort that goes into marketing our auctions to both a local and an international audience to make sure that your items are reaching the right audiences and that you get the best price possible for them.

Our standard seller’s commission rate is 16% +VAT commission for lots that sell for over £61. For lots that sell for under that, we charge a seller’s commission of 25% +VAT commission. There’s also an additional £2 +VAT selling fee per lot for our general auctions, and a £5 +VAT selling fee per lot for our Fine Art auctions.

We can, however, offer better rates for valuable items or large collections, so please contact us for more details.

Good luck and happy selling!

Contact us

Find out more about selling at auction with Potteries Auctions here, or please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any other questions. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is on hand to answer any queries or concerns you may have about selling your items through an auction house. You can also email us at or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100.