Buying at auction can be a little intimidating for those who are not familiar with the process.  However, there is nothing to worry about; just follow these few helpful hints.


For most sales held at our salerooms in Aylsham, a ‘Bidding Card’ system operates.  You will need to attend the office, complete a buyer’s registration form, and then you will be given a bidding number.  For regular buyers, a permanent number can be issued, which can be used in most Keys sales.


Many of the items in our sales will be posted on this website, but in many cases you may well want to view in person.  All of our auctions have a specified viewing period in advance of the sale, when you can fully inspect the items.

Make sure you check the items in which you are interested, to ensure that they suit your requirements, and decide what you are prepared to pay for them.  Auction regulars will tell you that it is essential to decide your ‘limit’ before buying, to avoid getting carried away once you are bidding!

We normally illustrate nearly all lots on our website for Antiques and Picture sales.  If lots are not illustrated, we can supply up to five images per sale on request.  Many condition reports are also included online, but if condition is important to you, please ask.  Please apply for photos and condition reports at least 2 working days before the start of the auction.

Decide how you will bid

You have the choice of bidding yourself, or asking us to bid on your behalf.  Remember, you do not even need to attend the auction to buy – you can fill in one of our commission bid forms with the limit you are prepared to pay, and we will bid for the item for you up to that limit.

A complete list of ways to bid is listed at the bottom of this page.


If you have decided to bid for yourself, don’t be concerned that the auctioneer will mistake a sneeze or a wave as a bid – he will know if you are making a bid!  When your item is offered, it will be ‘shown’ by one of our porters, or viewed on a large TV screen.

The auctioneer will begin the bidding at a low price, raising the price by increments as he receives bids.  When you bid, raise your hand.  Repeat until you reach your self-imposed ‘limit’.  The successful buyer is the one whose bid stands when the auctioneer taps his gavel on the rostrum.

The best way to learn the art of successful bidding is to attend a sale and observe other people.

If you are successful

Tell the auctioneer your bidding number (showing them your card is the easiest way of doing this).  He will make a note of the price, and your bidding number, which is then sent to the auction office for processing.  When you present your bidding number at the office, your bill will be prepared, and once you have paid, you present your receipt to one of our porters, who will clear your item(s) for you.

If you do not attend the sale and we bid on your behalf (for example because you have left a written or telephone bid, or have bid via the website), we will notify you by email of the lots you have purchased, stating how much each lot went for, and if successful, the amount which needs to be paid to us.  Please arrange payment and collection within seven days of sale.

Payment methods excepted; Debit card (Payments exceeding £250 can only be made by the cardholder in person.) Cash payments up to a maximum of £5000 and also bank transfer, details are listed on all invoices.

Buyer’s Premium

A Buyer’s premium of 20% + VAT is payable on all lots (this may be variable on some sales).  Our website shows the rate chargeable for each sale.  There is no VAT payable on the buyer’s premium for Book sales.

Bidding options

Many people enjoy the excitement of bidding in person in the sale room, but there are a number of other options:

·  Leave written bids at the salerooms

·  Telephone bids to us on 01263 733195

·  Fax bids to us on 01263 731222

·  Leave commission bids via our website

·  Bid online ‘live’ through

·  Request a live telephone bid (a minimum bid limit may apply)

If you have any queries about buying at auction, please do not hesitate to speak to any of our staff, either at the salerooms or by telephone.  Our porters can be identified by their Keys clothing.