Art Auction Primer

Auction Terms: C-I

A-B | K-Z

Term Definition
Catalogue Catalog/Catalogue After items are collected for a sale, a catalog is published and lists the lots to be included in the sale. The majority of catalogs have illustrate entries that have been thoroughly researched by experts. For a particular item, the entry can provide the authorship, title, medium, date, location, provenance, exhibition history, bibliography and auction estimate. Catalogs can be published in either print or online. Consigners are usually charged a catalog fee.
Commission The fee the consigner must pay the auctioneer when they sell your work of art. Depending on the value of the work and the auction room you choose, this fee can run as high as 20% of the 'hammer price'.
Condition Report A written description of the condition of a work, prepared by the auction house.
Conditions of Business Special conditions under which an item is offered for sale. These conditions will effect the right of the buyer.
Consignor An individual who solicits an auction house to sell objects/properties. The consignor transfers ownership to the auction house, except when the object does not sell or meet its reserve price (see "Bought In").
Designation A generic description of the consigner as opposed to actual name.
Estimate The price range an object/property is expected to sell at an auction. Determined by the auction house, the price is based on an analysis of the object/property and prices achieved by other similar objects. The auction estimate is often the price included in auction catalogs. Also known as Pre-Sale Estimate.
Fair Market Value Is the price that the art would sell for on the open market between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act and both have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.
Guarantee Some amount the auction house has offered the consigner whether the item sells or not.
Hammer Price The winning bid for a lot at an auction (named after the action of the auctioneer using his/her hammer to signal the end of bidding). The hammer price is included in the Price List and usually does not include the Buyer's Premium. Contrast with Price Realized
Insurance The fee you will pay to have the auction room insure your work of art.
Insurance Value Is the amount it would cost to replace an item with one of similar and like quality purchased in the most appropriate marketplace within a limited amount of time.Also called replacement value.