live bidding Archives - Thomaston Auction

Have you ever wondered, "how do live auctions work?" or "how do I participate in a live auction near me?"

The Auction

For those who have never participated in a live auction, it can seem a bit overwhelming at first.

The fast-paced bidding, the auctioneer's chant, and the excitement of the competition might feel intimidating.

But fear not!

With a little preparation and understanding, you can confidently step into the world of live auctions and even walk away with some incredible finds.

What is a live auction? A live auction is an event where items are sold to the highest bidder in real-time. Participants gather, either in person or online, to place their bids on various lots—items or groups of items up for auction. An auctioneer facilitates the event, calling out bids and managing the flow of the auction. The auction progresses quickly, with bidders raising their paddles or clicking online to indicate their interest and bids. The highest bid at the fall of the auctioneer's hammer wins the item.

A lot of new auction participants wonder what do do if they can't attend the live auction on site. This is where phone and absentee bidding come in.

What is phone bidding? When phone bidding, a staff member will call just before your item is up, so you can bid in real-time through the staff member over the phone.

What is absentee bidding? Absentee bidding lets you place your maximum bid in advance, with an option for a +1 increment to outbid others if there's a tie at your highest bid.

Both methods ensure you can participate in the auction even if you can't attend in person. Of these two options, we recommend phone bidding. It gives you the best opportunity to be the highest bidder since you'll know in real time if you've been outbid and can decide if you want to bid higher.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about bidding at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, from registration to winning strategies, so you can bid with confidence and success.

Four Options to Bid

    In-Person Bidding

    Visit our front desk to register. Fill out your contact information and receive a bid card with your paddle number for the auction.

    Phone Bidding

    Recommended for those who can't attend in person

    During the live auction, we will call you just before your item is up, allowing you to bid in real-time through one of our staff members acting as your agent. Download, complete, and return the registration form.

    Absentee Bidding

    Provide information on the lots you want to bid on and the highest bid you are willing to place. Indicate if you would like a +1, which allows the agent to go up to the next increment if there is a tie at your highest bid. Download, complete, and return the absentee bid form.

    • What is a Buyer's Premium and how much is it? The Buyer’s Premium is a fee paid by the buyer to the auction house, calculated as a percentage of the final bid price or “hammer price.” This is a standard practice among auction houses.
    • Thomaston Place takes pride in offering one of the lowest buyer's premiums among esteemed auction houses.
    • All bids placed through in-person, phone, or absentee bidding have a discounted 20% Buyer’s Premium, whereas online bids add an additional 5% to the Buyer's Premium to account for the added cost of the bidding platform. Therefore, we always encourage our guests to bid using in-person, phone, or absentee bidding.

    Online Bidding

    We offer the ThomastonLive app (Apple App Store, Google Play) and website for easy, convenient, and secure online bidding. You can place bids ahead of time or join the live-streamed auction on the appointed day to bid live.

    Create an Account for Online Bidding

    Visit our website to create a new account. Follow the steps to set up your account. We will process your registration within a few days and email you with your initial bid approval amount, which may appear on your profile as “Pending Bidder Approval.”

    Place a Bid

    Log in to your account, explore the auction, select the item you wish to bid on, click “Leave Bid,” and complete the bid details.

    Please note when registering to bid online

    • If you are a first-time bidder or plan to place high-value bids, you may need to provide additional information for approval. This process ensures the security and integrity of the auction. Approval amounts vary, and we will notify you of any required steps during the registration process.
    • All online bids have a 25% buyer's premium. The buyer pays this fee to the auction house, calculated as a percentage of the final bid price or "hammer price."
    • If you later decide to come into the gallery and bid in person, stop by the front desk to fill out an in-person registration form and receive a new paddle number connected to the discounted in-person 20% Buyers Premium.
    • Please be aware that if you place bid online and through our front desk on the same lot numbers, you may be bidding against yourself! Please decide one form of bidding for each lot that works best for you.

    Winning Bids and Payment

    If you are the highest bidder when the auctioneer's hammer falls, you will receive an invoice detailing the final bid amount, buyer’s premium, and applicable taxes. Provide payment in person, by mail, by wire transfer (required for invoices over $25,000), or online using our secure payment portal.

    Sales Tax

    Sales tax depends on how you receive your lot(s). We add a local Maine state sales tax of 5.5% for items picked up at the gallery. If you are shipping, we add the local sales tax associated with your shipping address instead. Tax exempt individuals should provide a copy of their Resale Certificate.

    Item Collection and Shipping

    Once you make the payment, schedule a time to pick up at our gallery. If you require shipping, email our Shipping Department. We offer professional packing and shipping services at the buyer's expense.

    Download Our App!

    Follow our auctions and bid anywhere using the ThomastonLive app. It's free, secure, and convenient.

    Download on Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

    Tips to Win at a Live Auction

    • Do Your Homework: Research the items you’re interested in. Know their value, history, and condition. This will help you make informed decisions and set a realistic budget.

    • Set a Budget and Stick to It: Decide on the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on each item and stick to it. This prevents overspending in the heat of the moment.

    • Register Early: Ensure you complete your registration well in advance to avoid any last-minute issues. This applies to all forms of bidding—whether in-person, phone, absentee, or online.

    • Arrive Early: If bidding in person, arrive early to familiarize yourself with the auction environment and review the items on display. You can also reserve a seat by calling 207-354-8141.

    • Stay Calm and Focused: Auctions can be fast-paced and exhilarating. Stay calm, keep your emotions in check, and bid confidently.

    • Use Bid Increments Wisely: Understand the bidding increments and use them to your advantage. Sometimes a small increase can secure your desired item.

    • Be Aware of Competing Bids: Whether bidding online or in person, be mindful of other bidders. Understanding your personal comfort level and objectives will help you know when to step back and stay within your budget.


    Participating in a live auction can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Follow the tips and guidelines in this article to prepare yourself to navigate the auction process confidently and successfully. Remember to do your research, set a budget, and stay calm and focused during the auction. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact us at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries. Our friendly staff is always here to help.

    For any questions, feel free to call us at 207-354-8141.

    Business hours are 9 am to 5 pm (eastern time) Monday–Friday.
    Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
    PO Box 300
    Thomaston, Maine 04861
    51 Atlantic Hwy
    Thomaston, ME 04861
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