Auctioneer to charge for condition reports

Cotswold auction house Moore Allen & Innocent is trialling a new operation to encourage more people to attend its saleroom.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Laura Chesters

Among the changes is a £10 charge for condition reports for lots that are estimated at less than £100, and a storage fee for items left longer than three days after auction.

Moore Allen & Innocent partner Philip Allwood said: “It is no longer possible to make money on the lower-end goods that we once relied on for our bread and butter.

“The bread has gone stale and the butter is rancid. In terms of our overheads, it costs us around £30 per lot, so those that are less than £50 are costing us money to store, photograph and catalogue.”

Although many auction houses have stopped taking lower-value items from consignors, Allwood has decided to trial a different system.

Moore Allen & Innocent will, from December 12, not sell boxed lots and lower value items online. Instead these lots will be offered as the first 200 lots of each auction in the room only. Such items, the majority of which are estimated at less than £100, will be described with a single line, such as ‘seven boxes of assorted china and glass’, without a photo.

“This is about trying to get more people into the saleroom

In terms of storage after a sale, items can be left at the auction house for three days afterwards for free. After this, items stored for between three and five days will incur a £50 fee and those up to seven days will be charged £100. After seven days a £10 storage charge per day per lot will be charged on top of the initial fee.

The condition report charge will be refunded to winning bidders who had requested one.

The firm will continue its policy of not charging for valuations.

The auction house will also “be more stringent” on the items it accepts for sale.

Allwood added: “This is about trying to get more people into the saleroom. Some auctioneers have decided to stop selling these lots altogether. But we are trying to do something to combat the tough situation we are in. Buyers can come into the saleroom to view these lots in our barn.

“I don’t want to charge people for storage or condition reports. I would like them to view the objects in the saleroom and come to collect the item when they have bought it – that way I don’t have to charge. This is a trial and it is designed to make things better for clients and for us.”

A number of auctioneers now charge for storage to deter buyers from leaving objects for long periods of time.

Robbie Barry, secretary at the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers (SoFAA), said: “All auction houses have the possibility of a storage charge in their T&Cs. However, I am not aware of any auction house charging for condition reports at any price level.”