Frequently asked questions

We have attempted to make the content of the website as exhaustive as possible in order to cover as many eventualities or queries as possible. There are a number of questions which tend to recur during every auction and we have attempted to summarize these below:

Q. What is a Buy Bid?

A. This tends to be the most common query we receive as this method of bidding is often misunderstood. It does not mean that a lot can be purchased prior to the auction at its’ estimated price. This confusion often arises because some companies operate a “Buy or Bid” sale model. Rather, a Buy Bid is an open ended commitment to purchase an item at one step over the second highest bid received – however expensive this may prove. For that reason it is a potentially dangerous method of bidding. If two bidders find a lot of particular interest the Buy Bidder may end up paying far more than they anticipated. For example, if a lot is estimated at £20.00 and a bid is received of £80.00 as well as a Buy Bid, the client who entered the Buy Bid will be liable to pay £82.00 (one bidding step over the second highest bid received). This scenario is not unknown – particularly if we have underestimated a particular lot.

We do accept Buy Bids but we do not recommend them as we believe they are fraught with potential misunderstandings. We far prefer that bidders express an exact figure in relation to each lot of interest.

Q. What if two or more Buy Bids are received in relation to the same lot?

A.  We contact each Buy Bidder and request a specific maximum bid to break the deadlock. If the highest maximum figure then submitted is less than a normal numerical bid submitted in the ordinary way, the numerical bidder shall prevail.

Q. By what methods can I submit bids?

A. We accept bids by post, telephone, fax, e-mail, and via our website. Telephone bids must be confirmed in writing. A full resume of how to participate in our auctions can be found by clicking on the “Bidding” heading at the top of the website home page.

Q. Am I liable to pay a Buyer’s Premium in addition to the hammer price?

A. We levy absolutely no Buyer’s Premium or extra charges whatsoever. We are totally opposed to the basic concept of a Buyer’s Premium. We believe all charges should be absolutely transparent and for that reason we believe the hammer price is the actual amount you should pay.

Q. I am interested in a particular lot but a scanned image does not appear on your website. Is it still possible to obtain a scan?

A.  Yes

Q. Do you accept bids below your stated estimates?

A. Our estimates are designed as a guide to what we reasonably expect each lot to reasonably fetch under current market conditions. However, we accept that opinions of value are subjective and therefore we do consider bids below estimate. It should be noted that bids under 80% of estimate stand little chance of success.

Q. How soon following the sale will I discover whether I have been successful with my bids?

A. Our sales are numerically large but we aim to dispatch purchases and pro-forma invoices within seven days of the close of sale. We are happy to assist prospective purchasers with their results following the sale but we would be most grateful if enquiries could be delayed for a minimum of 36 hours following the close of the auction in order that lots may be allocated as swiftly as possible.

Q. I have received or been invoiced for an item that since bidding I have acquired elsewhere.  Can I return the lot in these circumstances?

A. Lots can only be accepted for return on the basis that they do not conform to their catalogue description. To accept the return of lots because a purchaser has bought a similar item elsewhere acts to denude the vendor of a valid sale and denies another prospective purchaser the opportunity to acquire the item. The answer in this case is to ensure that a bid for such an item is cancelled prior to the close of sale.

Q. Is it possible to purchase unsold items following the sale?

A. Following teach sale we post on our website a list of unsold lots which can be made available for direct sale at 85% of their estimate value.  These selected lots will be available for direct purchase for one month.

Q. Do you publish a list of prices realized?

A. With limited administrative time available, we face a choice between producing a list of selected unsold lots for direct sale or a list of prices realized. Experience has shown that there tends to be far greater interest in purchasing unsold lots. We do Endeavour to help with individual items; however, we regret we are not able to furnish realizations for larger numbers of lots.

Q. I have been successful with my bids but I don’t want to pay what I consider are exorbitant postage charges? Will you send lots by a cheaper method of my choosing?

A. We fully appreciate the reluctance to pay increasingly high postal charges, especially for services such as Special Delivery & International Signed For. However, in the absence of instructions to the contrary we are obliged to send lots by a method which fully insures their value (this may entail splitting consignments into two or more packets when mailing outside the United Kingdom due to the low levels of compensation available when sending to certain countries). If a purchaser wishes to use an uninsured or under-insured method of sending we do require prior written instructions to that effect. In the event that material is lost or damaged in transit when sent by an uninsured or under-insured method, by necessity the loss or shortfall must be borne solely by the purchaser.

Q. Does Airmail Collector operate in any other way aside from selling material via auction? Would it be possible to service my Wants List?

A. We only sell material by means of auction. Regrettably our stock is not organized in such a way that it is possible to service Wants Lists. We also believe that by offering all our material through the medium of auction it provides a level playing field for all clients to compete for items of interest. Potentially Wants Lists can cause awkward dilemmas. If two or more clients have the same item on their respective lists, who should we afford first refusal to? By entering all material for auction, we try to provide the best possible opportunity for all customers to compete equally. We do offer some surplus, cheaper or unsold material via eBay, again in auction format. If clients would like to be informed by e-mail of when such material is due to appear we will ensure notification is given via our e-mail database.

Q. Is there a charge for subscribing to Airmail Collector auction catalogues?

A. For new recipients of our traditional printed catalogue there is no subscription charge for the first year in order that clients may develop a proper feel for our sales over a period of time rather than having to form a judgement of whether to pay to a subscription on the basis of maybe a single sale. After the first year has elapsed, there is a nominal charge of £7.50 (inland) & £10 (overseas) per annum. For those who opt to subscribe solely to our e-mail database in order that they may receive notification of when sales are available to view on-line, there is naturally no charge for this service.