Buying At Auction

Since 1967, Ritchies has built a strong and distinguished reputation as one of Canada’s leading full-service auction houses. With a dedicated team of specialists conducting auctions in Toronto, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai, we are Canada’s leading international auction house.

At Ritchies everyone is welcome as a spectator, buyer or seller, and we encourage you to come and watch the excitement of an auction in progress. Either way, you have come to the right place!

Getting Started
If you have never attended an auction before, you may find it helpful to know what to expect. We hope you will take a few moments to read over our outline below, as it explains the process.

The best ways to find out about sales at Ritchies are by checking our website or by subscribing to our email mailing list. All sales have scheduled previews, which allow you an opportunity to come and see the items being offered for sale. This is a great opportunity to examine the objects, ask questions of the specialists and obtain condition information. Ritchies staff are as knowledgeable as they are approachable. We are always happy to share insights on quality, condition, provenance, scarcity and value of an object. Previews are free and open to the public.

If you are unable to attend a preview, our specialists are available to assist you by telephone or email with any questions you may have about the nature or condition of the lot you are interested in. Catalogues do not comment on the condition of an object, so it is always advisable to inquire if there are any issues of concern. All our lots are sold subject to “Conditions of Sale”, so it is important to read them over before bidding.

Catalogues for sales are available approximately 3 weeks prior to each sale. Our online catalogues are free and provide full colour illustrations, thumbnails, and interactive tools including direct communication with department specialists.

Printed versions of the catalogue are also available, either by subscription or individually by mail, courier or by ordering online.

At the Auction

If you are attending the auction and you think you will be bidding, it is advisable to register for a paddle. This can be done quickly and easily prior to the sale, or throughout the course of the auction. The auction proceeds in the lot order published in the catalogue at a rate of about 80 to 100 lots per hour. A slide screen located behind the auctioneer is used to display the object being sold to the audience. After receiving an opening bid (generally 2/3 of the low end estimate), the auctioneer will continue to take bids in standard increments from the floor, phone bidders and absentee bids until the final bid. The auctioneer will then give notice of “last call” and finally “knock” the bid down to the final bidder, and pronounce the lot “sold”. The successful buyer holds up their paddle and the number is recorded. If an item fails to generate successful bidding the lot will be “bought in” or “passed” and the auctioneer will announce this before moving to the next item.

Absentee and Telephone Bidding
Sometimes it is not possible to attend an auction, so written bids may be left with our staff to execute on your behalf at the auction. Telephone bidding is an enormously popular choice as it allows you to be on the phone with one of our staff as they relay the sale to you and bid at your direction. These bids must be arranged no later than 2 hours prior to the sale by filling out a bid form and supplying us with your contact information. Several minutes before your item comes up we will call you and walk you through the lot. Sometimes it is the next best thing to being there!

Absentee bids are bids left with our staff (again, no later than 2 hours prior to the auction) that indicate the maximum amount we may bid on your behalf for a lot. Of course this information is kept in the strictest confidence and we always endeavour to secure the item for the lowest possible amount. These bids are executed by the auctioneer (he refers to it as “his book”) and by a designated bidder at the phone table.


After You Buy
Congratulations! We told you it would be exciting!

After you have made your purchases at the sale, please present your paddle to our accounts department who will generate an invoice of your account. Payment can be made by Direct Debit, Visa, MasterCard, Certified Cheque or Money Order. All accounts are due immediately following each sale. Each lot is subject to a Buyers Premium and taxes. For more information on the Buyers Premium please refer to the conditions of sale.

Shipping is the responsibility of the purchaser. To assist you we have assembled a list of shippers who have national and international shipping capabilities.

Upcoming Auctions & Events