Tamsin Mackay – Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Stephan Welz & Co. and Imre Lamprecht – Head of Arts and Painting Department at Stephan Welz & Co share their tips on becoming an expert collector at an auction.

Tips to buy furniture and decorative items at auction:

Buying antiques and collectables is not always easy as it can be very difficult to know whether you are getting a good deal or not. However, today’s antiques and collectables marketplace is probably more open and accessible to collectors than ever before, thanks in no small part to the internet. If you buy from auctions you’ll be provided an unequalled opportunity to view a wide range of stock and to meet specialists who share your passion.

• Whether you are buying antiques as an investment, for a collection or to sell them on, always buy what you like and buy what you are interested in. If something appeals to your sense of style or your idea of beauty, you will develop a passion for it.
• Condition is another important attribute to look for, always ask about damage and/or restoration and handle each item – after all, it’s your money that you’re spending and you’ll only have yourself to blame if you miss a flaw. The onus is on the buyer to be aware of what you are buying and to check it carefully.
• Be informed, research each piece you are interested in purchasing, familiarise yourself with maker’s marks and be aware of reproductions. Reputable antique dealers or auction houses will be able to provide you with all the relevant information.

Tips to buy art at auction on art/paintings:

• Always come and view the works first hand at the viewing. This way you can take in the size, medium, quality, condition and see if it is what you had in mind. You might also spot something that you would have never seen otherwise.
• Get the specialist(s) opinions and advice on pieces.
• Buy what you like – you have to live with it!
• Work with a budget – know what you are able to spend and keep in mind that there is a buyer’s premium payable on top of the hammer at any auction.
• Buy the best that you can afford of a particular artist.