Buying at auction can be a thrilling experience - from finding the perfect item to seeing the bids roll in and the excitement of winning your chosen lot.

We aim to make auction buying an enjoyable, transparent, and easy-to-understand process. On this page, you'll find some helpful advice to guide you through the buying journey. If you're new to the world of auction buying, we recommend you spend some time reading our FAQs to help you understand the terminology.

Remember that our team are on-hand to answer any further questions you might have, feel free to drop us an email here.

Viewing and inspecting a lot

There aren't a lot of things you'd buy without having seen them first and the same applies to auction items. As a buyer, we invite you to inspect your chosen lot during opening hours at our Edinburgh saleroom. If you're not able to visit us in-person, we ask you to satisfy yourself as to the condition of the lot by viewing the images available on our web pages. Condition reports are available upon request.

Buyer's premium

If you're the successful bidder of your chosen lot - congratulations! - you're now the proud owner. When you come to pay for your lot, please expect the addition of a buyer's premium of 18% plus VAT.

Please note that if you purchase lots through the there will be an additional 4.95% rate incurred.

Attending the sale

Auction rooms attract a real buzz on sale day. To make sure you don't miss out on any bidding, read our short pre-bidding requirements:

  • To bid, you'll need a paddle or bidder number. To get one, please visit the office or contact us and register with two forms of identification, one of which should be photographic (passport, driving licence etc).
During a live auction

Auctioning of a lot follows the same general pattern each time:
  • The auctioneer will call out the lot number
  • Bidding will start with pre-set increments e.g. £5, £20 etc
  • If you'd like to bid, raise your paddle
  • To place another bid, simply raise your paddle again
  • Continue bidding until you are the highest bidder, or you decide to stop
  • If you're the highest bidder, the Auctioneer will note down your paddle number.

Online bidding

The beauty of the modern world means that you don't have to be in Edinburgh on sale day at Donaldson & Company, but you could still walk away with your dream item. That's because fully-catalogued, specialist sales take place live on, allowing bidders to take part in the action from a number of countries across the globe. Bear in mind that before bidding, you must register with and agree to their terms and conditions.

If you're successful during a live, online auction on, your lot will attract an additional charge for the service, set at 4.95% of the hammer price plus VAT (currently 20%). This charge will appear on your Buyer's Invoice which you'll receive directly from Donaldson & Company.

Commission bids

If you are unable to attend the auction or bid online then you can leave a commission bid. This is a free, confidential service Donaldson & Company are happy to provide, and we accept commission bids either by written instruction, where you will complete a commission bid form, by telephone, or via email. When you place a commission bid, you must indicate the maximum amount you wish to spend. The auctioneer will execute your bid as cheaply as possible.

Telephone Bidding

We are pleased to offer telephone bidding for items valued at £100 or more. Phone lines are limited and are offered on a first-come first-served basis. If you would like to book a phone line so you can bid in real-time via telephone, this must be booked by 4pm the day before the sale.

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept requests for telephone lines on the day of the sale.


If you've bid successfully on an item, then you'll need to pay any amount due directly after the auction. Our team will be on-hand to take payments swiftly in person by cash, debit or credit card. If you've submitted a successful telephone or commission bid, then please arrange for payment to be sent to us via bank transfer (BACS). If you join our auction live online at, then your registered card will be charged following the sale.

As we're based in the UK, we thank you in advance for making your payment in Pounds Sterling only.


We do not offer a postal service, but we can recommend the following companies to take care of the shipping of your items.

Viewing Times

Our Edinburgh saleroom is open to the public for two days prior to each auction, where items for sale can be viewed. Please note currently, due to government advice, that viewings are available Thursday and Friday from 10am-4pm by appointment only.

Artist Resale Rights (ARR)

In 2006, ARR was introduced by a European Directive. It applies to living artists and those who have died in the last 70 years. The Royalty rate only applies to works of art where the hammer price exceeds €1,000 (Euros). The rate is applied at 4% on works selling for €1,000 and up to €50,000. This means that if you purchase a lot which includes a work of art by a qualifying artist and it sells for over 1,000 Euros and below 50,000 Euros then you are required to pay the surcharge of 4% of the hammer price to The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS). Donaldson & Company will detail this DACS payment on your invoice and the ARR will be paid across to DACS. A sliding scale applies to works of art selling for over 50,000 Euros. Royalties in their entirety are paid to the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) and no handling fees or costs are retained by the Auctioneer. Resale Royalty payment is calculated on the rate of exchange at the European Central Bank on the date of the Sale. Royalties are not subject to VAT charges. If you have further queries then please contact the DACS helpline on 0845 410 3410 or alternatively email or visit

Please click here for Terms & Conditions

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