HOW AUCTIONS WORK
When selling at auction, you agree to allow the auctioneer to act as your agent. Our job is to realize the highest possible value for your property. In exchange, we retain a percentage of the sale price, a commission. We charge the buyer a commission as well.
In deciding what items to accept for consignment we consider condition, provenance (history of ownership), and current market trends. We hold over 60 auctions per year in a variety of formats. We print full-color catalogs for major auctions, with photographs and scholarly descriptions. Online catalogs (created for all auctions except Discovery) include additional photographs, photo-zoom capabilities and “Bid Now” options.
Our services include photography, marketing, research, catalog description and catalog production. We store and insure your property while under our care, and provide condition reports for interested buyers.
Consignment deadline is 10 weeks before a cataloged auction; 5 weeks before a timed online auction.
Once your property arrives at Cowan’s, we prepare it for auction (research, description, and photography). You can follow the progress via a private portal by registering at Cowan’s website.
After your items have been prepared for auction, we email or mail an itemized consignment contract specifying the auction date, low-to-high estimate, commission rate and fees.
Approximately 7 days before a live auction, your property is displayed in our showroom for potential buyers to examine.
Auction results are available in real time; we also notify you by email.
You will receive a settlement check 45 days after the auction date as long as the buyer has paid us in full. Your check amount equals the hammer price (highest bid), minus the commission and fees.
In the event that your item is passed on during the auction, we will automatically re-assign it to another future auction with a slightly lowered estimate.
Featuring some of the most sought-after items in the category, these auctions follow the traditional format allowing all forms of bidding: in-person, absentee, phone, and online. Premier Auctions also offer a printed catalog complete with photography and full descriptions of lots available. As with all Cowan’s auctions, all lots are viewable online as well.
Including items for casual to avid collectors, Discovery Auctions operate similarly to Premier Auctions but without the option to bid in-person. All lots are viewable online with full descriptions and photography including detail shots.
Offered exclusively online, these auctions take place over the course of multiple days with a running clock on each lot letting bidders know how much time is left to bid. The lot is awarded to the bidder who has the highest bid on the item when the clock strikes zero.