Becoming an Auctioneer

I could never have imagined that I would become an auctioneer: at the centre of the auction, atop of the rostrum – all eyes watching. As a naturally reserved person, becoming an auctioneer was definitely a step out of my comfort zone. The process of becoming an auctioneer is a challenging and yet extremely rewarding experience. Although the flow of the auction may seem to come quite naturally to an experienced auctioneer, it is a skill which requires many hours of practice and a certain amount of courage. It is important to consider the role of the auctioneer as that of a reputable public figure, who must be seen to entertain as well as uphold the legal obligations of the salesroom. With this in mind, the responsibility of my role was an initially daunting prospect. I had never really considered becoming an auctioneer before joining Biddle and Webb, but as I got more involved with the auction world, my career path soon changed.

My first step to becoming an auctioneer was getting accustomed with the set increments of the salesroom. Many auction houses may have different systems of increments that determine the increase in price when a bid is made. It is essential to be able to memorise these increments so that buyers are aware of the price they are bidding, and so that the flow of the auction remains concise. When practicing, I often found myself repeating increments in my head like times tables, so that they would become instantly recitable to me. Once I had mastered the increments, it was time to trial my skills with a live audience. To begin with, I practiced on my colleagues who would pretend to be competing bidders in a salesroom. I also recreated this at home with my friends and family, often resulting in many hours of entertainment! Although I practiced many times over a period of months, when it came to the day of my first auction I was extremely nervous. The most intimidating aspect of climbing up on the rostrum is the feeling of being the centre of attention – you are responsible for conducting the sale. However, as I eased into my role the nerves soon wore off and the sale became increasingly enjoyable. I gained more experience and confidence with every sale. I started auctioneering a small amount of lots of general and lost in transit items before moving on to selling antiques and collectables. I was soon able to conduct auctions of up to 400 lots without any assistance, as auctioneering became second nature to me.

Becoming an auctioneer is more than remembering increments and facing the crowd. The best auctioneers are able to assert their self-confidence and project their personality in an engaging way. As a History of Art student, becoming an auctioneer has opened many avenues of opportunity. I have recently been awarded the 2015 Matt Carey Williams and Donnie Roak award for my internship in the professional arts world. I very much look forward to seeing what the future may bring.

Hope to see you at the auction!

By Ellie Hill.

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