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I’m not talking about a few pounds above or below an auction estimate, I am talking about the items which sell for 10 times, 100 times, or greater, than their auction estimate.

Make no mistake, the vendor is paying the auction room to sell that item and is relying on their ‘expertise’ to have valued it correctly.

I’m sure most of us, myself included, go straight to the Bid Barometer in the ATG each week, specifically the lots sold greater than their estimate to mentally ‘wow’ the difference.

'Sleepers' romanticised

Auction programmes on TV routinely glorify items that sell for hugely greater prices than the estimate put on them by the ‘expert’.

Indeed, these ‘experts’ are then often congratulated and thanked. For what? Getting it so spectacularly wrong? The trade get away with this by calling these lots ‘sleepers’ and have managed to somehow romanticise the notion as a good thing (for sellers maybe).

Why worry about this? Surely receiving a sale price 100 times the estimate of your lot is a great surprise for the vendor.

But what about the potential vendor who takes their item to an auction room to be valued by so-called ‘experts’ and that individual then decides not to sell at auction but to sell privately elsewhere, basing their sale price on that given to him by experts?

What recourse is there for them if they sell an item elsewhere that has been woefully undervalued by an expert but, in reality, has a far greater value?

I think we would all agree that valuation is not a science. I think we would all agree that there is no way of knowing the price a lot will reach on the day. I would like to think we all agree that estimates are guide prices only based on ‘best educated guess’.

However, I do feel when items sell so far in excess of their estimate we should not laud the valuer.

How many people have entrusted these ‘experts’ to value their items and then decided to sell them elsewhere underpriced? I have and I doubt I’m alone.

Eddie Holt

Settle, North Yorkshire