Reserve matters

Posted On: 01 Mar 2023 by Hannah Johnson

Ian King, Shouler & Son County Auction Rooms Manager, explains the value of a reserve price.

Reserve matters

Ian King, Shouler & Son County Auction Rooms Manager, explains the value of a reserve price.

In a retail environment there is one price tag for one item and, whether that be pre-sale or in the sale, there is no room for barter.

Now, in acknowledging that there are very different force - and, often, emotions - in play in an auction room, when a sale lot has a reserve price that is its equivalent of a lowest price tag and it won’t be sold for less than that.

Of course, the hope of seller and auctioneer is that it is sold for more.

Not every lot at an auction will have a reserve price. As a rule of thumb, it is usually an item that has a recognised monetary value to a third party - however, this is not always the case.

In the way that any lot in an auction can achieve a high value on the day when it is because competing bidders want it, how the seller values an item they put forward for sale can come to dictate the reserve price.

Professional auctioneers will always be honest with a seller as to the potential value of an item and, particularly, in the instance of a special item on which a reserve price is advisable.

It is never going to be in the auction room’s interest to place a reserve value on a lot that does not deserve one because, if it fails to sell for the reserve price or above, the auction house cannot claim the percentage fee.

We would never recommend a reserve price on a lot for sale without a lot of research on our part in to the market demand for the item at any one time around the auction date.

Fashion and trends often dictate bid prices and items with a reserve are not immune to these either.

But, in the end, the determination of value can come down to how much the seller wants to part with the item and that’s a different definition of the ‘value’ of the item to them.

The next sale at Shouler & Son County Auction Rooms in Melton Mowbray is the (( Antiques, Vintage and Collectables Auction on Thursday 23rd March 2023.

Auctions are open to members of the public, dealers and general visitors, but online or in-room bidders must pre-register.

For more details of the forthcoming auction or to register as an online or in person bidder, see