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What makes this auction special is that a live audio feed will allow you to experience the atmosphere of the saleroom, as well as seeing the lots on your computer screen as they appear in the room. Not only that, but the auctioneer will also be aware of your bids the moment you make them.

Taking live bids in this way will transform the online bidding process for the auctioneer as well. Instead of having to employ a large team to manage telephone bids or record digitally entered online bids and pass them onto the auctioneer, the person at the podium will be in direct contact with the bidder at home. This means lower costs and less time spent on administration at the saleroom end.

For the bidder, it means that you can become a player and buy at auction without disrupting your daily schedule. It’s easy to register if you want to bid, and you can view the catalogue online first.

Even if you’re abroad on business or just on holiday, all you need is a computer with Web access and you can join in.

The system gives you greater control than when you leave a bid on the book, and the unique live audio feed gives you more of a feel for the sale as it is happening, which can help you with your bidding.

Sunday Times Money section editor William Kay sees the new service as taking online bidding “a step upmarket”. “Within a year, I predict, this set-up will pretty well entirely replace the present practice of remote bidding by telephone,” he wrote in his February 26 comment column.

The live bidding programme is a pioneering joint venture by the newly launched the-saleroom.com and the American company Bidspotter.

Unlike many of the new Web set-ups trying to cash in on the TV-driven resurgence in popularity for antiques and auctions, the-saleroom.com is from the same stable as ATG.

As well as the Live Auction service, the-saleroom.com also provides a fully searchable price guide of almost a million antiques and collectables – so you can compare estimates at auction with what similar items have made before, and work out how much you are prepared to bid.

If you’re new to the auction experience or buying online and want to see what it’s like before putting in a bid, you can always log on and just watch and listen as the drama unfolds. Dreweatt Neate and others will be holding more sales using this system, so you can always sign up to bid then if you’re not ready now.

• Visit the new service and find out more at: