Bill Nelson from 1818 Auctioneers near Milnthorpe says stopping live auctions in March to safeguard staff and clients has obviously impacted on cash flow, but the business is in good shape and its new timed auctions, similar to e-bay but only in style, allow people to still buy at auction and will help with recovery. The new format means auctions are open to bidders for 16 days and if bids come in close to closing time then the bid time is extended.

“As we come out of lockdown measures, with some furloughed staff returning to work in the coming weeks, timed sales are a good way to reopen,” explained saleroom manager Bill Nelson.

“They are easier to set up, require less staff and offer a much safer working environment. We hope they’ll provide a new, yet familiar way, for people to interact with our 200-year-old auction business.

“Whilst there’s nothing to beat the buzz of a live auction, it can be the very thing that puts people off bidding. So, in a first for us, we’re giving people over two weeks to bid for items starting with a sale of fountain pens which closes on Sunday 24 May. Initial responses suggest 50% of the bidders are first time registrations with us,” said Bill.

From now until mid-July, 1818 Auctioneers, based at J36 Rural Auction Centre on the Cumbria, Lancashire border will offer a programme of timed auctions, including silver, jewellery, textiles, antiques, valuables and collections, furniture, pictures, cameras, records and books. If successful Bill Nelson says they’ll continue alongside 1818 Auctioneers live formats.

“The auction business is moving from one that’s about selling to the trade and professional collectors to one that’s attracting individuals and we hope this helps,” said Bill Nelson.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the timed sales, including browsing sales and requesting condition reports should visit 1818 Auctioneers website. Anyone wanting to make a bid will need to register at Bought items can then be collected by appointment, maintaining social distancing guidance, couriered or posted.

Bill Nelson says the early adoption of digital technology has served the business well and this alternative way of selling online, made necessary because of the pandemic, could prove to be a another good thing too.

“We can see that ongoing success is about continuing to improve and grow our online client experience, as well as investing in the actual saleroom,” added Bill.