Buying with IAA | International Autograph Auctions

How does an auction work?

Before each sale, IAA Ltd prepare a detailed catalogue in which each lot is illustrated and fully described, including an assessment of the condition of the lot. The printed catalogues are distributed to subscribers and are also available on an individual basis at a cost of £15 including postage. The catalogue is also made available online.

The catalogue will contain an estimate of each lot for sale. The actual price you pay on the day may vary greatly from this price, sometimes higher, but sometimes lower, depending on how many other buyers are interested in the same lot. The estimate is decided by the auctioneer based on their experience of the market and similar items which have been previously sold.

When you have your catalogue, look through it carefully and decide which items you would like to bid for. Attending the sale in person is the most exciting way to bid. Buyers are given a numbered paddle when they register on the day, and they simply raise their paddle to indicate whenever they want to bid higher. There is no need to worry about accidentally bidding as you blow your nose – our experienced auctioneers will spot the genuine bids. The auctioneer will alert buyers that accidentally bid against themselves by indicating who the current bid is with.

There are other methods of bidding if you cannot attend the auction, including submitting commission bids by post, telephone, or, as is becoming increasingly popular, live on the Internet, via one of the two bidding platforms that host our auctions – Invaluable and The Saleroom.

When you have finished bidding, you can pay for your items by cash, cheque, credit or debit card. (Credit cards incur a 3% plus VAT surcharge if registered outside the EU) If you have attended the auction in person you can take the items away with you when they have been paid for. If you were not there on the day, items will be securely packaged and sent by Royal Mail Special Delivery (within the UK) or Royal Mail International Signed For or FedEx to addresses outside the UK.  There will be a charge for postage relative to the size and weight of the items sent.

Many buyers find the auction atmosphere so thrilling that they come back again and again, and become regular clients.

Just as selling through our auctions is a simple procedure, so is buying at our sales. Auctions provide a unique retail experience and the thrills (and spills) of buying at an auction have to be personally witnessed to be fully appreciated. The noted autograph specialist and auctioneer Charles Hamilton perhaps summed up the unique world of autograph auctions best in his entertaining book Auction Madness when he wrote -

‘The first time you attend an auction you may be amazed by its explosive speed…You may wonder how you can take part in any battle so swift and subtle’

And, upon recounting the experiences of one of his customers, added -

‘The first time I ever bid…..I didn’t know what to expect and I was scared, really scared. But after I’d bought a couple of lots I could tell when the auctioneer had his eye on me. I began to enjoy it enormously. By the end of the sale I felt like I’d had a valium. It took me an hour to recover from the sheer intoxication.’

We continually welcome new buyers to our auctions and, in order that you may get the most out of the experience, we have prepared below some answers to questions you might have.

How can I obtain a catalogue for the auction?

Our fully illustrated catalogues are usually available around 7-10 days prior to the auction. They can be ordered directly from us and cost £15 each, including postage. We also offer a catalogue subscription to ensure that you will never miss one of our auctions. A subscription to eight catalogues (usually covering a 2 year period) is available at a cost of £80, including postage. We are happy to mail catalogues anywhere in the world.

Catalogues are also available on this website in the period leading up to an auction and are also available on the websites of Invaluable, Live Auctioneers and The Saleroom.

Where do IAA hold their auctions?

All of our auctions are held on site at the Foxhall Business Centre, Nottingham.

Are there any costs, other than that of the autograph, when I purchase at IAA?

Yes, all auction houses charge a Buyer’s Premium on the hammer price. In the case of International Autograph Auctions Ltd the Buyer’s Premium is 22.5% plus VAT. The Buyer’s Premium including VAT is 27%. VAT is not applicable to bidders from outside the European Union.

Are there any costs in addition to the Buyer’s Premium?

It is possible to make a purchase from our auction with the Buyer’s Premium being the only charge that you will encounter. There are small charges which are only applicable depending on how you pay for your purchases and how your bids are made, the details of which you will find below. If you require the lots to be mailed to you then there is also an additional charge for postage and packing.

 How can I make a bid at the auction if I can’t attend personally?

There are several simple ways that you can bid at our auctions without actually being there. The most traditional method is to submit a commission bid. To submit a commission bid, you will need to create an online account via our website. Commission bids are submitted through this website. Commission (or absentee) bids are executed on your behalf by the auctioneer as cheaply as allowed by such other commission bids or reserves that there may be. There is no additional charge for submitting bids by the above method.

If you are unable to attend our auctions personally but, wish to bid live then please take advantage of our ‘Live Online Bidding’ service.

By completing a simple registration process ahead of our auction via any one of the independent websites listed below you will be able to participate in the auction and bid live online while the auction is in progress.

This has become an increasingly popular method of bidding for many of our clients in recent years.

Most of the sites provide a visual and audio feed so you will be able to not only bid on the lots which are of interest to you, but also watch and listen to the auctioneer as the lots are offered and fall under the hammer, thereby getting a sense of the thrills and excitement in the auction room from the comfort of your own environment.

Each of the sites have their own tips and advice for online bidders and provide various different features, including auction alerts. Please visit one of the providers below to take part in our next auction.


Please note that any purchases made through the live online bidding sites above are subject to a 3% plus VAT surcharge on the hammer price (3.6% inc. VAT) other than Invaluable which is subject to a 5% plus VAT surcharge.

How can I find out the results of a commission bid I have left?

Results of the auction are posted on this website as promptly after the auction as possible. In order to confirm that you were the purchaser we recommend that you telephone our offices on the Monday following an auction.

Can I see the autograph before I make a bid or attend the auction?

Yes, as well as the illustrations in the catalogue and on this website, clients do have the opportunity to personally inspect lots before the auction takes place. Clients are welcome to view lots at our Nottingham offices in the week before the auction, although an appointment is necessary. You also have the opportunity to view lots on the morning of the sale from 9am and also while the auction is in progress.

How can I pay for the lots that I purchase?

Payment can be made in various ways and it is important that invoices are settled promptly following the auction. Clients can pay by cheque or cash and we also accept payments by debit card and credit card (Visa or Mastercard). Please note that payments made by credit card are subject to a surcharge of 3% + VAT. Overseas clients may find it beneficial to settle their accounts by wiring the payment directly to our bank and we will be happy to provide the necessary details upon request. Payments can also be made securely online on our website.

If I don’t attend the auction, how can I receive my purchases?

We are more than pleased to send lots that you purchase directly to you following the auction. All autographs are securely packaged and usually dispatched via Royal Mail Special Delivery within the UK and by Royal Mail International Signed For overseas. Some bulkier packages will be sent by Parcel Force, but whatever the method they will always have a tracking number and a signature will be required upon delivery. Deliveries via a courier company, such as Federal Express, can be arranged at a clients request. All deliveries are also covered by our insurance.

With an increasing number of clients preferring to have their purchases sent to them we have a large number of packages to prepare and send following the auction. However, in most cases, we would estimate that you would receive your lots around 4 - 7 working days following the sale.

How do I know that the autograph I am buying is genuine?

All of the autographs that pass through our auctions have been carefully authenticated and appraised by our experts. We believe that the catalogue descriptions provided are amongst the most accurate and detailed within the auction world and should give you the ability to make your purchase with confidence. Autographs have been forged and duplicated for centuries although any submitted items that we have a concern over are returned to the owner and do not appear in our auctions.

Do IAA provide a Certificate of Authenticity?

No, it is our opinion that certificates of authenticity (COAs) are generally worthless and prove little. In fact we see more forged signatures accompanied by certificates of authenticity than we do genuine ones! Any purchase made through our auction is accompanied by a detailed receipt which, along with the relevant catalogue entry, serves as a record of where and when you made the purchase. You can read more about authenticity and COAs elsewhere on our website.