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Some definitions from the glossary of Red Baron Antiques,
Auction Terms - Copyright John Stephen Proffitt III
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Glossary of Terms

Antiques & Collectibles

Acanthas - The leaf of the acanthus plant was used as a decorative motif by the ancient Greeks. Its use as a decorative motif was revived in the 16th century.
Alabaster - A fine grained stone that is usually gray or white in color and is slightly translucent
Apron - In furniture this term refers to the horizontal section between the legs of a chair, table or stand of a cabinet. It may be shaped, carved or pierced.
Armoire - A large, often ornate cabinet or wardrobe
Art Deco - Named after an exposition held in Paris in 1927. Art Deco items are angular with simple lines
Art Nouveau - The French term for new art, this style began showing up in the 1890s and continued into the 1920s or ‘30s. It is characterized by flowing and sensuous forms.
Arts & Crafts - This movement was marked by a re-emphasis on hand craftsmanship. It was popular from 1895 through the 1920s.
Attributed - It is the opinion of the person selling the item that it is from the person or factory it is attributed to, but it has not been proven.
Baluster - A turned column.Barley TwistA popular deign for the legs of chairs or tables, so named because it resembles a stick of barley sugar.
Baroque - Heaviness in full swing now, Massive architectural carvings, full figured mounts, thick floral and fruited garlands, high relief carvin
Batch - When discussing glass, this term refers to the ingredients prepared and ready for melting
Blacamoor - Dark skinned figure dressed in a colorful costume. First created in Venice , these figures were carved and used as a support for tables and torchiere
Block Front - The upright fronts of chests made with two projecting flat sections and a central hollowed section divided by narrow incurved spaces. Found on furniture made in New England
Bronze - An alloy of copper, tin and traces of other metals.
Cabriole - A leg with a double curve.
Candelabra - A decorative branched candlestick
Chenets - Ornamental pieces placed in front of a fire place
Chevel Mirror - A full-length standing mirror
Chinoiserie - European versions of Chinese articles and motifs.
Cloisonne - Style and technique used to apply enamel on metal objects
Commode - French term to describe a low bureau or cabinet
Console - A table that can be attached to a wall having two front legs or may be free standing against the wall
Dentil - A small rectangular block repeated with intervening spaces, often part of a cornice molding
Empire - Heavy architectural forms, winged chimera, massive bronze mount
Escutcheon - A keyhole plate, it is often decorative
Fauteuil - An open-armed armchair originating in France
Gesso - A paste prepared with glue (Plaster of Paris), spread upon a surface to fit it for painting or gilding
Gilt Bronze - A thin layer of gold applied on bronze
Giltwood - A thin layer of gold leaf or gold foil applied on wood
Gothic - Usually features lancet arches, finials and pierce carving. Think Notre Dam
Inlay - A technique used with furniture and ceramics when part of a surface is removed and replaced with a contrasting materia
Marquetry - A patterned veneer formed from two or more contrasting veneers.
Neoclassical - Tapering lines and classical motifs. Straightness as reaction to excesses of Rococo. Torch & quiver, ribbons are indicative
Onyx - A translucent quartz with a shiney finish
Parlor set - Term used to describe a settee with matching chair
Parquetry - Veneers arranged in a geometrical pattern.
Pate-sur-pate - A 19th century porcelain decorating technique featuring relief designs
Pontil - An iron rod used in glassmaking. With a small lump of molten glass on the end, the pontil was stuck to an article while the blowing iron was removed. When the pontil was finally broken away, it would leave a scar, called the pontil mark.
Porcelain - A hard, translucent ceramic made by firing and glazing a fine clay
Regency - Lightness makes its return with this style but some massive mounts remain Cabriole legs and ormolu mounts are common
Renaissance - Style reflects period zeitgeist and includes many allusions to classical Greece & Rome. Detail includes scrolling foliage, delicate intarsia columns, urns, flowing robed women, etc.
Rococo - Style is most characterized by an absolute abhorrence of straight lines. Rocaille, scallops, c-scrolls and delicate foliage reign
Sconce - A decorative wall bracket for candles or electric lights
Sgraffiato - A type of decoration scratched through a coating of slip to reveal a contrasting color
Toby Jugs - Jugs in the form of a man, who is usually seated.
Vernis Martin - Term used to describe a special varnishing technique perfected by the Brothers Martin in the 1730s
Vitrine - A glass showcase used to display a collection of fine small objects of art
Auction Terms
AARE - When you see this after an auctioneer’s name it means “Accredited Auctioneer of Real Estate.” It’s a professional designation an auctioneer can earn by meeting educational and experience requirements, as defined by the Auction Marketing Institute.
Absentee Bid - A bid on a lot left in advance of the auction with someone (often the auctioneer) by a bidder who will not attend.
Absolute Auction - See “auction without reserve
Accounting - An auctioneer’s financial report to the seller detailing all sales made, money received, and money disbursed
Agent - A person authorized by a principal to act within a scope of authority granted and to bind the principal accordingly. An auctioneer is an agent of a seller.
Apprentice - A few states require those who would become licensed auctioneers to serve an apprenticeship for a specified period under the direction of a licensed auctioneer.
As Is - The first two words taught to students in auctioneering school. It means selling assets without any warranty as to their condition and merchantability for a particular use.
Auction - The sale of property by means of exchanges between an auctioneer and bidders whereby the auctioneer declares a sale to the highest, or most favorable bidder, to form a contract for sale between that bidder and the seller.
Auction subject to confirmation - This is a variation on an “auction with reserve.” The auctioneer brings the top bid on a lot to the seller who then accepts or rejects it.
Auction with Reserve - The seller reserves the right to accept or reject any and all bids, or to withdraw the lot at any time prior to the announcement of the completion of the sale. See also “reserve price.”
Auction without Reserve - The lot will be sold to the highest bidder regardless of price and with no contingencies. No one may bid on behalf of the seller and the auctioneer may not refuse to accept any bid. Commonly called an “absolute auction.”
Auctioneer - The person engaged by the seller to conduct the auction
Backup Bidder - The second highest bidder who bid the increment immediately below the amount of the winning bidder’s bid.
Bank Letter of Credit - An auctioneer may require an unknown person to provide a letter from a bank certifying creditworthiness to a stated level before registering that person to bid in an auction.
Bid - The amount a bidder signals the auctioneer the bidder would pay to buy the lot being auctioned.
Bid Card - A card given to a bidder by the auctioneer which exhibits the bidder’s assigned number to be used for bidding in the auction. The auctioneer will call the number of the successful bidder for each lot and the “clerk” will note that bidder and the amount of the winning bid on the clerking sheet.
Bid paddle - A wooden piece resembling a ping-pong paddle that is given out by the auctioneer and used by a bidder the same as a “bid card.”
Bid rigging - When two or more people conspire to restrain trade by artificially “fixing” bids in an auction. This can occur when bidders agree not to bid against one another so as to depress selling prices, or when an auctioneer and one or more others agree to try and artificially increase selling prices. The conspiracy is the crime and it doesn’t need to be successful.
Bidder - One who places a bid.
Block - While it can be a podium or raised platform, this is any point from which the auctioneer cries the bids. Lots come to “the block” to be offered for sale.
Bonded - Some states that license auctioneers require them to purchase surety bonds to protect those who deal with them from loss. These bonds are typically small in amount.
Box lot - A box or other container holding like, different, or mixed contents, usually of nominal or lower value and sold by the auctioneer as a single lot.
Buy back - When an auctioneer or seller bids on a lot and “buys” it back to protect it against a sacrifice to the highest bidder whose bid is deemed insufficient by the auctioneer or seller. Unless a seller reserves the liberty to bid and announces it, buy-backs are fraudulent and also violate the UCC.
buyer - The winning bidder, as recognized by the auctioneer, who enters into a contract for sale to purchase the lot from the seller.
Buyer’s Premium - Third and fourth words taught to new students in auction school (right after “as is”). A marketing tool commonly used by auctioneers, it is a percentage surcharge added to the high bid for a lot to determine the lot’s final selling price.
CAGA - Initials found after some auctioneers’ names that mean “Certified Appraisers Guild of America.” Designation auctioneers can earn by meeting educational and experience requirements, as defined by the Missouri Auction School.
CAI - Initials found after some auctioneers’ names that mean “Certified Auctioneers Institute.” Designation auctioneers can earn by meeting certain educational and experience requirements, as defined by the Auction Marketing Institute.
Catalog Auction - Auction where the lots are individually described in a catalog given to bidders at the time of registration.
Caveat Emptor - Two most important words in auctions for prospective buyers. Ancient Latin axiom that means, “Let the buyer beware.” This reminds buyers they take a risk on every purchase where there is no reliable guarantee.
Chant - Rhythmic combination of numbers and separating filler words called by the auctioneer while offering a lot. The chant is comprised of two numbers – the amount that has been bid and the next higher increment the auctioneer is seeking to be bid. The single-most important characteristic of a good chant is clarity.
Choice - Selling method auctioneers sometimes use with similar items offered in a “variable” lot. Bidders compete and the highest bidder gains control. Bidder in control has the “choice” to select any one piece from the lot for the amount of the high bid, as well as the “choice” to select additional pieces from the lot by paying the amount of the high bid for each additional piece chosen. After this bidder has selected, items remaining in the lot will be offered to other bidders.
Clerk - Auction worker who records the identity of the seller, buyer, and selling price for each lot sold
Clerking Sheet - Paper form on which the clerk records the identity of the seller, buyer, and selling price for each lot sold.
Collusion - When two or more people conspire to restrain trade by artificially “fixing” bids in an auction. This can occur when bidders agree not to bid against one another so as to depress selling prices, or when an auctioneer and one or more others agree to try and artificially increase selling prices. The conspiracy is the crime and it doesn’t need to be successful. See “bid rigging.”
Colonel - Traditional title used by some to identify auctioneers. Its origin supposedly dates to the Civil War when army colonels would occasionally auction off spoils of war.
Commission - Fee an auctioneer charges a seller for providing certain services to sell property at auction. It is usually a percentage of the gross sale revenue of the auction.
Consignment - Property consigned by a seller to an auctioneer to auction
Consignment auction - Auction comprised of lots consigned to an auctioneer by multiple sellers.
Contract - – “A promissory agreement between two or more persons that creates, modifies, or destroys a legal relation.” Black’s Law Dictionary.
Cut bid - Bidder’s signal to an auctioneer that the bidder will offer half the amount of the increment the auctioneer is seeking to advance the bidding. If the bid were at $50 and the auctioneer was seeking $60, a bidder could signal a cut bid which would mean he would bid $55.
Disclosure - Auctioneer’s best insurance against liability. It means revealing known facts that sellers, bidders, and buyers need to have to make informed and intelligent decisions regarding the auction.
Due Diligence - Process of investigating and gathering information necessary to make an informed and intelligent decision about a matter, such as a prospective buyer examining the authenticity, condition, quality, and status of property to be sold.
Gavel - Small, hammer-like item banged by some auctioneers to emphasize the sale of a lot. Often referred to figuratively in auctions.
GPPA - Initials found after some auctioneers’ names that mean “Graduate Personal Property Appraiser.” Designation an auctioneer can earn by meeting certain educational and experience requirements, as defined by the Auction Marketing Institute
Hammer Price - Price a lot sells for to the highest bidder. Term relates to the auctioneer striking a gavel (literally or figuratively) to signify the sale of a lot.
Increment - Amount of money an auctioneer seeks to advance the bid for a lot.
Jump the Bid - Bidder strategy to knock out competition by bidding an amount even higher than what the auctioneer is requesting.
Knock Down - When an auctioneer sells a lot to the highest bidder, he “knocks it down” to that bidder
Left Bid - Bid on a lot left in advance of an auction with the auctioneer by a bidder who will not attend. See “absentee bid.”
License - About half the states have some form of license law for auctioneers. These laws vary from mere revenue acts to substantive requirements, including regulatory oversight.
Lot - “[P]arcel or a single article which is the subject matter of a separate sale …” per the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”). Each offering by an auctioneer is a separate lot.
Miniumum Opening Bid - Auction in which the auctioneer will only accept an opening bid at, or above, the amount of the disclosed, opening bid amount. This is a variation of a reserve auction.
NAA - National Auctioneers Association which is an organization of over 6,000 auctioneers and headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.
One Money - When multiple items are sold in a single lot for the highest amount bid
Phantom Bid - Phony bid called by an auctioneer for the purpose of tricking a legitimate bidder into bidding more for a lot than true market demand would require. The auctioneer pretends to take a bid from a bidder who is nonexistent to lure a legitimate bidder to make a higher bid. This is fraud.
Picker - One who searches for and acquires goods of value for the purpose of reselling them for profit through various channels, including auctions. Pickers are an important component in auction sales, as they bring many items to market that auctioneers sell.
Pooling - When two or more would-be competing bidders conspire to fix bids in an auction by agreeing not to bid against one another, with one bidding on behalf of the members comprising the “pool.” The conspiracy is a crime and a violation of the Sherman Act. See “bid rigging.”
Preview - Designated time for prospective bidders to view and inspect the lots to be offered at auction.
Recovery Fund - Auctioneer license laws in some states provide for a state-administered recovery fund in the event of a financial loss caused by certain types of auctioneer wrongdoing.
Reserve - Minimum threshold price a seller will accept to sell a lot at auction. It is a safeguard against an unwanted sacrifice of the seller’s asset, as no sale will occur unless the reserve has been satisfied. See “auction with reserve.”
Retraction - When a bidder withdraws a bid prior to the auctioneer declaring the lot sold. A bidder’s retraction revives no previous bid.
Ring Man - Auction worker who assists the auctioneer by providing prospective bidders with information about the lots and also spots bidders and relays Also called “bid assistant” and “bid spotter.”
Sealed Bid Auction - Sale in which bidders tender confidential, written bids to be opened at a predetermined time and place to determine the highest and winning bidder.
Silent Auction - Popular fundraising technique used at socials for charities, etc. and typically involving the sale of multiple lots. Bidders leave written bids for a lot on a nearby paper or in a container. Variations include both disclosed and confidential bids. The winner is the highest bidder.
Terms - Conditions for an auction announced at the beginning that will become the promises and agreements comprising the contract for sale formed between the seller and buyer.
Times the money - Selling method whereby an auctioneer sells multiple items in one lot under the term that the lot’s final price will be calculated by multiplying the highest bid by the number of items comprising the lot.
Two Ways - Selling method auctioneers sometimes use with items that would naturally go together, such as the pieces to a dining room set. The items are exposed to bidding individually, with the highest bid for each piece “held” and the items not sold. Then the items are exposed to bidding in aggregate. Whichever approach yields the highest total price is the way the items will be sold. The process can also work the opposite way with the aggregate offered first and the individual pieces last.
UCC - Uniform Commercial Code: A body of commercial law that applies to auctions and has been largely enacted by every state except Louisiana.