Number of bidders rises by 70% at Leicestershire auction house’s first online-only sale

Number of bidders rises by 70% at Leicestershire auction house’s first online-only sale

An auction house in Leicestershire which held its first ever online-only auction this week labelled it an “amazing success”, reporting a 70% increase in the number of bidders taking part. 

Gildings Auctioneers held the Jewellery, Art & Antiques online auction at their Market Harborough premises on 12th May. It was the firm’s first auction since the Covid-19 lockdown, having implemented stringent safety practices based on government guidance. 

The auction attracted around 1000 registered bidders vying for 424 lots, mainly comprised of jewellery and pocket watches.  With a final hammer price of £200,000, the auction also exceeded the pre-sale estimate by £35,000. 

“We worked really hard prior to the auction to ensure that we were addressing both logistical and health and safety issues,”

explained Mark Gilding, one of the company’s directors and also the online auctioneer. 

“Although we have been using online bidding platforms very successfully for some time, this was the first sale to take place exclusively online so we were unsure what the response would be. However, it was an amazing success. lot sales were higher than usual and the whole process went very smoothly.”

Mark believes that some of the reason for the auction’s success can be attributed to the reduced number of auctions taking place nationally and around the world.

“Usually there are around 25 online auctions on a typical day, but on 12th May there were just 5, so the law of supply and demand worked in our favour. Plus, we had some really interesting pieces for sale.”

Many items exceeded the predicted price, including a 19th century diamond set floral spray brooch that made £4,000 against a maximum estimate of £1,500. A Longines  ‘Dirty Dozen’ military wrist watch, one of the first wrist watches commissioned for the British Army also sold well about the pre-sale estimate, fetching £3,600 while a bottle of 21 year-old Brora single malt whisky sold for £1,400 against an estimate of £700-£1,000.

The catalogue was available to view online as always and an efficient system for posting and packaging post-sale has been put in place to enable quick delivery. Potential buyers were able to ask questions about lots and request condition reports online to ensure that they had all the information required. 

In addition, Gildings have temporarily waived their fees for online sales, offering a saving of 4% - a significant reduction on more expensive items. 

Online bidding is becoming increasingly popular, opening up the marketplace to international dealers and collectors. However, for many, the thrill of being at a live auction is a major attraction. 

“It did feel slightly unreal carrying out an auction without an audience of bidders, but the atmosphere was still quite dramatic and exciting,”

commented Mark.

“There is obviously a strong desire for auctions to continue. In fact, the phone hasn’t stop ringing with enquiries since the auction took place which is great news for the industry as a whole as well as Gildings.” 

For more information about upcoming auctions and online bidding at Gildings, visit

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