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People are often intimidated from buying at auction, and we try to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible.

There are basically three ways to purchase items:

  1. Attending the Sale – the traditional method by indicating to the auctioneer that you want to bid. Some people bid surreptitiously, others quite ostentatiously – it doesn’t really matter. It is exciting with a live adrenalin atmosphere and by this method you have the best chance of securing the items that you want. You have a ‘paddle’ or registration number that the auctioneer will make a note of. The bidding will go up in increments set by the auctioneer depending on what level the bidding is at.
  2. Leaving a Bid – known as commission bidding. If you are unable to attend the event, we bid on your behalf up to the maximum level that you have set. This is a free service and we ask you to fill in a green commission bid form that gives us your details, the lot numbers that you wish to bid on, and the maximum amount you wish to spend on each lot. Or you can leave commission bids online. You can also phone the office to leave commission bids. These commission bids you leave, will be carried out as cheaply as possible, depending upon the other bids in the room, other commission bids, reserves, etc. Hopefully you will find that you have purchased the lots for less than your maximum bid, but sometimes two or more commission bids are left for the same amount on the same lot. If this happens, then the successful purchaser will be the first commission bid that we received on that specific lot.
    Remember you can leave commission bids through our online catalogue. These go straight into the auctioneers book once you have registered on our site. Alternatively you can leave commission bids by phone, fax or in person by filling out a green commission form.
  3. By Telephone – Providing that the lower estimate is over £100, you can book a telephone bid on a lot, or a number of lots. (We do not have telephone bids on low value items, as it slows down the sale; and if the bottom estimate is below £100, despite you potentially offering considerably more than the estimate, we have to draw the line somewhere.)
    We will ring you at the appropriate time during the auction when the item(s) you are interested in are coming up. You will then have a direct live line to a clerk or porter, who will be in the room, and you should be able to hear the auctioneer on the rostrum. You will instruct the member of staff to bid or to stop, as you see fit.

Buyers Premium

A buyers premium of 20% of the hammer price plus VAT is charged on all lots purchased at the auction. Please note that there is a minimum charge of £5 per lot. There is no VAT payable on the hammer price amount, except in the most unusual circumstances.


You can pay by cash, cheque, bankers draft, debit card or credit card. On some cards we do add a 2.5% surcharge to cover the costs of processing. We request that all items are paid for before collection.


We are open for public viewing on the two days prior to the auction from 10am to 6pm (last entry 5:30pm). Facemasks (unless an exemption certificate is shown) and social distancing, will be compulsory for anyone coming into the saleroom. We may limit the number of people in the saleroom, if necessary for social distancing. All lots are detailed with over 1500 photographs on our website. If lots are of particular interest, and you are unable to view, you are encouraged to ask for verbal and written condition reports, with extra photographs of items if necessary. These reports will be carried out as swiftly as possible.

Collection, Delivery, Postage & Packing

We will maintain social distancing conditions in the saleroom for collections. We will be open for collections from 10am to 12 noon on Sunday after the sale and from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Where possible, if you live locally please collect your items from the sale room. ITEMS MUST BE COLLECTED BY THE END OF TUESDAY FOLLOWING THE SALE. Please bring a friend to help lift heavier items. We can pack and post smaller items in house, carried out “at cost”. We usually manage to send out parcels within a week of purchase. We use several carriers, who can provide quotations for delivery throughout the UK.

Sale Alerts

So that you do not miss sales – please register on our website and you will automatically receive an email alert about forthcoming auctions. You will also receive news about valuation days, special events, previews, etc.

Condition Reports

Our main catalogue descriptions are deliberately short ‘one liners’. This is what appears in the printed catalogue alongside the illustration. On the website we also have the Auctioneers Report on each individual lot. This comments on the condition of the lot, where it has come from, age, colour, provenance, extra dimensions, etc.

Sometimes prospective buyers require further information and detail about lots, and we are delighted to supply this along with extra photographs, etc.

For Estate sales we do not have such detail on the lots, but we are happy to supply as much information as we can do about individual lots. For example – “is a washing machine working?” “Are the curtains lined?” “Are there any chips on the Doulton dinner service”, etc.


Railtons offer a service to clients, so that they get the best possible price for their treasures. We tell you what your things are worth, and then sell them for you – mainly through two different types of auctions.

Catalogue Sales are for higher value items where we photograph, market and promote your pieces. [For very specialised items we sometimes suggest transferring to a specialist auction – such as a marine sale, a coin auction for a valuable coin collection, a breweriana event for a rare pub jug, etc.]

All items are pictured and listed on our website as well as other specialist search engines, and we carry out extensive local and national advertising for our catalogue sales to attract buyers from around the world.

Estate Sales are more frequently held and contain everything from the kitchen sink to a sofa. Lower value items are entered into these house clearance sales when items are just “sold to the highest bidder”. We have no reserves or estimates in these auctions and they provide a service for people clearing houses, decluttering, as well as a means of disposing of unwanted chattels.


Jim Railton travels throughout the UK visiting clients and looking at their treasures, and does not make any charge for this service. For example, he has just picked up a collection of Scottish pottery in Kent and is clearing a house in Norfolk next month. Clients usually come to us as we have acted for them or their family before, or because we have been recommended by friends and professional advisors.

Our commission rates are highly competitive and one of the most reasonable in the North of England. Our standard selling rate is 20% of the hammer price, plus the dreaded VAT on this commission. For very high value items or volume (e.g. a complete mansion house clearance) we may occasionally apply a reduced concessionary commission rate. It all depends on what it is you have to sell.

Payment is normally made 35 days after a sale, providing we have been paid by the buyer. ALL sales have an entry charge of £5/per lot, whether sold or unsold. In addition we charge 1% of the hammer price for insurance – to protect your chattels whilst they are in our hands, in case anything untoward should happen to them. Carriage, packing and removal of items is charged to vendors “at cost”, and we use a number of different local removal firms. [We try to store items up in an area so that we can sweep everything up in one van run, making it more economical from the sellers point of view.] Mr Railton doesn’t charge for anything he can collect himself in the back of his car!

Specialist Areas

We don’t know everything! Often we are asked about specialist items like golf clubs, stamps, fountain pens, football programmes, medical instruments, etc. We have contacts in all such esoteric fields and get advice from specialists in London and overseas. For example, we recently sold some tribal art in Paris and had some important seafaring historical items in a marine sale in London.


We have the largest auction database in the North and advertise sales extensively nationally and locally. We also send out email alerts to all our registered buyers. We are also currently developing our own innovative online bidding platform. Buyers can purchase in four ways – by traditionally attending the auction and bidding, by telephone live on the day, by leaving a commission bid with us either by email/phone etc, and finally by the new online clicking of a mouse.


Railtons has a history of getting the best price for their sellers – much higher than other regional salerooms with larger attendances of private buyers at the weekend auctions. We liaise with vendors about placing suggested reserves on items.


A FREE verbal valuation service is offered to all, and generally home visits to inspect treasures are also not charged for. Jim Railton spends most of his time ‘on the road’ visiting clients, looking at whole house clearance to individual single items. From Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, we have clients who are vendors, and quite often families who have bought historically then become vendors when their circumstances change.

We also carry out formal written valuations. These can be for individual items, or complete house inventories, or sometimes for personal collections.

The most common formal valuations are Probate Valuations, acting on behalf of solicitors or executors of deceased estates. These are carried out professionally, sympathetically and swiftly with a certificate that can be submitted to the Capital Taxes Office to enable Probate to be granted.

Insurance Valuations are also frequently carried out, providing clients with inventories of their house contents. This valuation is a useful document to ensure that all is covered by your home insurance, and a fully illustrated, detailed report can be compiled.

We also carry out valuations for loss adjusters when items are damaged, and can often recommend restorers in the specific fields required. For example in the recent floods we supervised the restoration of many houses, liaising with insurance companies and supervising the work of furniture restorers, picture cleaners, ceramic and glass conservators, packers, etc.

Our rates for these valuations vary according to the time involved, the size of the property, etc, and are highly competitive. Please contact us for further information on these valuation services.

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