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How to Bid Online

Below you will find instructions of how to register and bid in our online auctions. Should you have any questions, please read our frequently asked questions, or contact us.

  1. Browsing the Sale
  2. Live Updates
  3. Registering to Bid
  4. Your Bid Limit
  5. Placing a Bid
  6. Be First to Reach the Reserve
  7. Reserve Prices
  8. Updates and Notifications
  9. Sequential End Times
  10. End Time Extensions
  11. Bidding Increments
  12. Buying Examples – Calculate your final price
  13. Pay and Receive your Instrument
  14. Shipping

Browsing the Sale

Our search tools are designed to make your life easier. Use the tool bar at the top of the Sale catalogue to refine or reorder your search.

search and filters

  • Search – Use Search to filter by keyword, instrument category, maker name, or price range
  • Jump to – Jump to a specific lot
  • Display – Reorder the lots based on price, lot number, maker name and estimates, and choose a currency to view estimates and bids.

List and Grid Viewing Options

  • Click Grid to view all the lots with thumbnail images
  • Click List to condense the lots into a table format

Click any lot to view high resolution images, detailed information and your bidding options.

Live updates

Our bidding system updates automatically without the need for you to refresh the page

Registering to bid

To place a bid on a lot, you will need to register and can do so via the red ‘Register to Bid’ button on each lot page.

Firstly, you’ll be asked to login or register an account with Brompton’s. Once logged in, you’ll then be taken through the steps to confirm your contact details, register your card and agree to our Terms and Conditions. You will need to register to bid for each sale.

Your bid limit

Upon registering, you will be shown your bid limit. For all new bidders, this is set to £5,000. To increase this limit, simply click on ‘Increase your bid limit’ underneath the search bar and follow the onscreen instructions.

When viewing the sale, your bid limit and active bids total is also shown underneath the search tools.

Only active bids count towards your bid limit. If you are outbid on a lot, the bid amount is no longer counted towards your limit.

Placing a bid

To place a bid at the asking price:
  • Make sure you have logged in and registered to bid in the sale.
  • On the lot page, click the red ‘Bid £x,xxx’ button (shown above). The price contained in the button is the current asking price for that lot.
  • A pop-up will appear showing a breakdown of costs; including your bid price, buyer’s premium, tax, and the total payable should your bid be successful.

  • If you are happy with the price and agree with the terms and conditions, click Confirm Bid to place your bid. Once a bid is placed it cannot be cancelled.
Placing a maximum bid

If you would like our system to bid for you up to a maximum amount, you can place a ‘Max Bid’. This is a simple process to save you having to continually place incremental bids at the asking price:

  • On the lot page, enter the maximum amount you are happy to pay for the lot and click ‘Place Max Bid’
  • A pop-up will appear showing a breakdown of the costs for both the current asking price and your maximum bid.
  • If you are happy with the prices and agree with the terms and conditions, click Confirm Bid.
  • As your current bid gets outbid, the system will place a bid for you at the next increment, and will continue to do so until your maximum bid is exceeded. At this point you will be notified that you have been outbid and you will need to increase your bid if you wish to win the lot.

Tip: If at the time of placing your max bid the lot has not met the reserve, the current asking price will jump to the reserve price as long as your max bid is high enough.

Be First to Reach the Reserve

Be the first person to meet the reserve on any selected lots within our online only auctions, and we’ll reduce your buyer’s premium from 20% to 18% if you win! Upon winning the lot we will confirm you were the first person to meet the reserve price and reduce your buyer’s premium to 18% for this lot. This reduction will be applied to your invoice after the sale has closed.

Please note, this discount does not apply to after sale offers or private sales. Look out for this message on selected lots…

Reserve Prices

Most lots include a reserve price – the minimum price the seller is willing to accept for the lot. If a bid has been placed on a lot which does not meet the reserve, you will see this icon reserve-not.png. This means the lot will not sell at the current asking price.

Once the reserve price has been met, you will see this icon reserve-met.png. Only lots showing the blue tick will be sold upon completion of the sale.

Updates and Notifications

As you bid on lots within the sale you will see various icons notifying you of the status of your bid. These icons will update automatically as other people bid. To make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to increase your bid, we will also email you when you have been outbid.

reserve-met.png Reserve met

reserve-not-met.png Reserve not met

bookmarked.png Bookmarked

highest-bidder.png Highest bidder

outbid.png Outbid

won.png Won

lost.png Lost

Sequential End Times

The end times of all lots are staggered by a short period of time, giving you an opportunity to bid on multiple lots without the risk of them all ending at the same time. All end times are shown in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or British Summer Time (BST) as appropriate.

End time Extensions

If a bid is placed on a lot within the last ten minutes of the countdown, the end time of that lot will be increased by fifteen minutes to allow other bidders an opportunity to bid. Lot extensions are capped to within 2 hours of the last lots original end time.

Bidding Increments

Bid Price Increment
£ 100 to £200 £10
£ 200 to £500 £320, £350, £380, £400 etc.
£ 500 to £1,000 £50
£ 1,000 to £2,000 £100
£ 2,000 to £5,000 £3,200, £3,500, £3,800, £4,000 etc.
£ 5,000 to £10,000 £500
£ 10,000 to £20,000 £1,000
£ 20,000 and up Auctioneer’s discretion

Buying Examples – Calculate your final price

To calculate the total price you will pay simply click on ‘Bid calculator’ bottom right of the lot page to see a breakdown of the total price including applicable taxes and fees. The calculator will automatically show you the current bid and you can enter any bid amount to update the calculation.

When you’re ready to bid, upon clicking the red bid button or entering a max bid you will see a full breakdown of the costs based on your bid amount prior to confirming your bid. Alternatively you can see an easy way to calculate the total price you will pay including buyer’s commission, VAT and any relevant import tax below.

On the lot page underneath ‘VAT & Import Tax’ you will see one of the following three statements:

  • 20% buyer’s premium only
  • * 20% buyer’s premium & 5% hammer price
  • ** 20% buyer’s premium & 20% hammer price

These relate to the costs associated with buying the lot. To work out the total cost simply do the following:


Total cost = Your bid x 1.24

Example – if your winning bid is £1000 the total to pay is £1000 x 1.24 = £1,240
Hammer Price + (20% Buyer’s Commission + 20% VAT)


Total cost = Your bid x 1.29

Example – if your winning bid is £1000 the total to pay is £1000 x 1.29 = £1,290 to pay
Hammer Price + (20% Buyer’s Commission + 20% VAT) + Import tax at 5%


Total cost = Your bid x 1.44

Example – if your winning bid is £1000 the total to pay is £1000 x 1.44 = £1,440 to pay
Hammer Price + (20% Buyer’s Commission + 20% VAT) + Import tax at 20%

Pay & Receive your Instrument

Once the countdown has come to an end, you will be notified onscreen and via email if your bid has been successful. After the sale has finished your invoice will be sent by email. Full payment is required within seven days of the auction date. Payment may be made by the following: wire transfer in sterling, debit and credit card and cash up to £5,000. Please note credit card payments will only be accepted for one full working day following the date of the auction and at a maximum single transaction of £10,000 per invoice.


Brompton’s will be happy to direct you to expert fine art shippers who will arrange for professional packing and insurance. Information on VAT refunds and export advice is available through Brompton’s.

View shipping information