The auction industry has been adapting to life the current coronavirus pandemic by switching to an online-only formula with staff working remotely and ensuring social distancing measures are respected at all times, including during delivery.
Lots Road Auctions in London will hold its first online-only live auction on Sunday, May 17 – its first sale since March 15.
It plans to reduce its weekly sales to fortnightly events for the foreseeable future and will work on how it can reopen its premises to the public and meet the government guidelines on social distancing from June.
Lots Road senior auctioneer Nick Carter said: “It will be a measured and steady return back to business. We are expecting the volumes of consignments to be lower and we will want to maintain quality so we expect to hold just fortnightly auctions for now.”
The Canterbury Auction Galleries will return to the rostrum with a two-day sale of fine art, antiques and collectors’ items on June 6-7.
Tony Pratt, chairman of The Canterbury Auction Galleries said: “There is already considerable interest in the upcoming sale, with requests for condition reports coming thick and fast and to make up for the lack of public viewing. We are preparing these on a more in-depth basis on request.”
It will re-commence free saleroom valuations by the saleroom’s specialists from May 29. These are by appointment only and must be booked by telephone at least one day before.
Pratt added: “We’re itching to get back on the rostrum and we know our longstanding clients, both collectors and the trade, are keen for a return to as near normal as we can make it. In fact, online sales are becoming the new normal. We have seen a steady rise in internet bidding over the last 12-18 months, particularly with new, younger buyers.”
Meanwhile Bishop & Miller will launch online-only auctions from June including a ceramics auction and its first standalone paintings auction.
In July it plans a cars auction and later in the autumn it will hold a ‘The Collector’ auction which encompasses Fine and early European works of art and furniture. Its current schedule of auctions is 41 from June until December.
The firm will also launch a valuation app and plans to change its payment terms so vendors get paid for lots within 5 days after the auction.
And finally, Edward Whitton of Whittons in Honiton has been conducting online-only auctions outside in the fresh air (the first was held on April 2). Internet buyers could hear birdsong as they placed bids.
But in the most recent sale a guest stole the show. Buster the black cat joined Whitton on the rostrum. Its next sale is planned for June 4.
To read about other online-only live sales read Antiques Trade Gazette’s update on online auctions which included new auction calendars from Mallams, SAS and Sworders.
According to the latest government advice, from June 1 auction houses and art and antiques dealers are expected to be able to open their premises to the public in a limited manner.