Buying and Selling at Piano Auctions – A Guide

Buying and selling at piano auctions is either an exciting experience or a daunting prospect for those with fragile nerves! At the right auction it can, nevertheless, be a method worth considering. Take a look at our guides below or contact us for more information.

Buying a Piano at Auction

Buying pianos at auction can be a useful way of buying a good, working piano. However, it isn’t perhaps as easy as it might seem. Many people find the atmosphere at an auction intimidating, and worry about either bidding too much for a piano, or indeed buying the wrong instrument altogether.

There are relatively few auction houses that regularly sell more than a handful of instruments, and only two that have regular piano auctions.

Pianos at Piano Auction

If you decide to buy at Auction, there are various factors that you need to be aware of:

  • Most pianos sold at auction need some form of professional attention (cabinetwork; repairs; restoration; tuning etc)
  • You should arrange for an inspection by an expert of any lot that you wish to bid for. See below
  • Once you have decided to bid, set yourself a limit that you are happy with, and do not allow yourself to exceed it. Always walk away rather than get caught up in a `bidding war’
  • Remember that there is a buyer’s premium (at least 15%) on top of the `hammer price’, and VAT is often charged on the premium
  • Once you have made your choice, and are a successful bidder, you have entered a binding contract. (Once the Auctioneer’s hammer comes down, you are committed to the sale.) “Let the buyer beware!”

Piano Auctions Ltd run approximately 4 piano auctions per week in London. The auctions are well-organised with good varieties of different classes of both upright and grand pianos. Piano Auctions Ltd currently hold their sales in Holborn and usually have up to around 120 different pianos for sale. We endeavour to be present at most of their auctions.

At Courtney Pianos, we are able to offer a service to either assist you in bidding, or to appraise any piano for you at these sales. For further information on this, please get in touch with us at the contact page.

Buying and selling piano at piano auction

SELLING AT AUCTION is also a useful method of selling your piano, and is the most effective route if:

  • You do not have the time (or energy) to devote to selling the instrument privately
  • You need to get the piano out of your home in a short time
  • You are hopeful of gaining a better price than by selling in the private market or to a dealer. N.B. this does not always work out in your favour!
  • Your instrument is of sufficiently good quality and value to achieve a satisfactory return on sale. (see below)
  • You want to expose the instrument to the maximum number of potential buyers

There are, again, a few factors you need to be aware of if selling via Auction, in that (similar to buying), the `hammer price’ (highest bid received from the floor) is binding; if you have previously agreed with the Auctioneer a reserve price, you may be faced with further costs if the reserve price is not reached on the day.

It is always prudent to consult the auctioneer before agreeing on a reserve price.

Don’t forget to allow for transportation to the auction room, and any commission on the sale price – around 15% + VAT. These costs are subtracted from the proceeds from the sale.


M. W. Threadgold

The piano is wonderful! It sounds excellent and looks excellent too!

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