You can not only buy antiques at antique auctions, but you can also find antiques at other auctions. I did another post on buying antiques at antique auctions, so this will focus on other auctions. One of the biggest sources is online auctions, with Ebay auctions being the biggest and most well known. You can find some great buys at an Ebay auction. If you like to buy on Ebay, I have one big suggestion. Find a good online auction software, sometimes referred to as an auction sniper. Just Google “online auction software” or “auction sniper” and you can find several examples. This type of software will bid for you in the last few seconds of the auction, increasing your chances of winning. Another reason I recommend this type of auction software is it forces you to place your maximum auction bid so you will not get caught up in the auction excitement. You will also not have to worry about the auction ending while you are at work, or asleep, and miss out on the auction. Other bidders will not have a chance to over bid your maximum bid since it will be placed in the last few seconds, unless they have placed a higher bid earlier. You will see that many bidders keep raising their auction bids in the last minute trying to find the highest bid. The auction sniper software will prevent that. There are many other online auctions that offer antiques. Many of the antique auction houses have live online bidding as well as the bidders in the auction rooms. Personally, I would not bid online at an auction unless I had first been to the auction house and attended the auction in person. Many of the auctions allow you to ask for a condition report, but they state they are not responsible for errors. There is another post on Buying Antiques at an Antique Auction .
Estate auctions are another good source for finding antiques. In some parts of the country, estate auctions are more popular than estate sales. The easiest way to find estate auctions in your area is to use http://www.auctionzip.com/. It will list auctions of all kinds. You can enter your zip code and how far you are willing to drive, and it will list all of the auctions, by date, and category. Many of the auctions will furnish photos so you can see if they are offering things that interest you. The negatives for this type of auction is they are usually held on site of the estate and are often outside. It can be very uncomfortable, depending on the weather, waiting for the few items that might interest you. So you might sit there for three or four hours waiting for a certain item, and then find friends of the family are willing to bid nearly any price to get the item.
Another auction source that is gaining in popularity because of TV exposure, are storage auctions. If you have not seen the show or the ads, these auctions are for the contents of a storage unit. The person who leased that storage unit was behind on their rent, so the contents of the unit are sold at public auction. The biggest negative on these asuctions are you are not allowed to go into the storage unit or touch anything. So you are almost bidding blindly on many of the contents. For some people this is an element of chance that excites them. This is especially true after watching the TV show, which highlights all of the fabulous finds and not many of the duds. So it leads many to believe that there are treasures to be found in those unopened boxes. It amazes me that people will not pay their storage bill when they have items worth many times more than their bill. And I will quickly add, that most of the time the contents are probably not worth very much. The TV show also stated what the items are worth. But unless it is something like coins or jewelry that can be quickly turned to cash, you have to find a way to sell it. If it is something valuable it will probably be covered up. Some things you can look for are new boxes versus old worn out used boxes. If it was not worth a strong new box, it probably is not worth very much. Bring a strong flashlight that will reach the back of the unit. You will need to see everything you can to help you determine your bid. But unless you can clearly see something of value, you are taking a chance.
Another good source for antiques can be charity auctions. The items are donated by companies and individuals. There are usually items and services of all types offered. Since this is not the usual auction crowd, you can sometimes find a sleeper at one of these auctions. We constantly received requests at our antique mall from various charities to donate items to their charity auction in return for being able to get exposure for your company.
Nearly any kind of auction can have antiques offered for sale. The only ones that I have not seen antiques offered are the penny auction craze and reverse auctions. Penny auctions are internet auctions where you buy one bid for a set price, usually under a dollar, say $0.75. The more popular items offered are electronics and gift cards as well as other new items. Each time a bid is placed, it goes up one penny, although it is really costing the bidder the $0.75 he paid for each bid. So a $1200 computer could go for $95. But the auction site is getting 9,500 bids at $0.75 each or $7,125. But I have never seen antiques offered at penny auctions. The same for reverse auctions. In a reverse auction, the buyer and seller switch places. An example of how a reverse auction would work with antiques would be someone wanting, say a 24 inch Victorian, Blue Willow platter. People wanting to sell a platter like that would then bid on selling this item. Of course the lower the bid, the better for the person wanting to buy the Blue Willow platter. Although I am not aware of anyone doing this, I could see this auction format working with antiques. So if someone reading this decides to start a reverse auction site with antiques, be sure and give me my cut (LOL).
My hope is that this post will help you find different places, especially auctions, where you can buy antiques.