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A list of common auction terms that appear on
3 mins

Auction terminology explained


Here at William George, we like to think we’re pretty jargon-free and are passionate about making the buying and selling process as enjoyable and easy as can be.

In any business though, there will be terms bandied about that might be initially puzzling for auction newbies, so if you’ve found yourself scratching your head at any point, let us be your Head & Shoulders and clear it up for you with our handy list of common terms:…


We see ourselves as more of a marketplace than an auctioneers. Our website brings together buyers and sellers where everyone benefits. We’re basically all about connecting people and we love it!


Before you can buy or sell you need to create an account. If you’re bidding, you then register for the auction you’ve chosen. Once you’ve done this, you can bid on any that take your fancy.


Each item or group of items that are listed together as one unit. Each lot is numbered and has its own description and images.


The price someone is willing to pay for a lot. It can be competitive depending how many people are after the same item so choose your bid/s wisely. We always advise you to have a budget in mind before you begin so you don’t get carried away if you’re outbid.

Opening bid

The starting price of a lot. It’s the lowest figure a vendor is prepared to accept for what they’re selling. Some will be lower than others, depending on which auction you’re looking at.

Bid increment

The amount by which the next bid needs to increase by, for example an item that is on a current bid of £150, may state the next bid has to be at least £10 more than that. The increment varies depending on the auction and is always displayed so there’s no confusion.


A reserve auction has a starting bid price attached to the lots and if it isn’t matched by the final bid, may prevent the item being sold.

No Reserve

A no reserve auction is one in which the item will be sold regardless of price. This has the potential to attract a greater number of bidders, especially those who are seeking out a bargain. There will, regardless of the type of auction, be a starting price, but these are generally very low.

Timed auction

An online auction that has a set end time. All of our auctions are timed and generally run for between two to four weeks occasionally longer. From start to finish, the process is automated and bidders receive email updates relating to their bids.

BP (Buyer’s Premium)

This is the percentage above the hammer price that will be added on and paid as part of each purchase. You’ll see it clearly displayed on every auction page.

Seller’s Commission

A commission paid by a vendor to an auctioneer…but not at William George! We’ve never charged this and have no plans to do so, so it’s free to sell with us.

Hammer price

The winning bid for a lot, before the Buyer's Premium and VAT is added on to the final bill.

Condition report

These are sometimes available depending on the type of sale, for example you may see these appear in a vintage watch auction. They describe any damage or work the piece has had done and gives the buyer peace of mind.

Secondary market

Also referred to as reverse logistics, the secondary market is essentially about buying and selling goods that have been purchased and returned in a way that makes it unfeasible for the retailer to sell them through their normal channels.

Raw returns

These are returned goods which were unprocessed by the retailer, instead moving to the secondary market, so they are unchecked and untested meaning they can be in a variety of conditions, from new, unopened boxes through to broken.

Withdrawn lot

An item that has been removed from an auction after it as began. This can happen for varying reasons and you don’t see many of these in our sales.

So, now you're armed with all this knowledge, head over to our live auctions and get bidding!