Sales Calendar

The first step in buying at auction is to find out when they are!

We hold four Fine Art Seasonal Sales, four silver and jewellery sales, two Antiquarian Book Sales, three Sporting and Collectors sales, two 20th Century and Contemporary Sales and one Maritime Sale each year.

Our sales calendar is available online or can be picked up at reception in Exeter. Alternatively, you can call us on (01392) 413100 or email us.

If you are a registered web user, you can also sign up to receive reminders of upcoming sales.


The next step is to find out what is being offered in the sales that interest you during the year. Our sales catalogues are always available online.

If you are registered user on our website, you can login and download the catalogue for any sale.

Our fine and some specialist sales have fully-illustrated colour catalogues. These are available from our offices for a fee (usually £10) or can be downloaded for free in PDF format provided you are a registered website user.

Condition Reports

Once you have found a lot that interests you, you can obtain a condition report from the specialist concerned. The specialist for each lot is listed online. You can request a condition report by calling the specialist on (01392) 413100 or by emailing them. If you are unsure who to contact, email reception who will make sure it is forwarded to the right person.

If you are a registered website user, you can also login and very conveniently use the links on each lot page to request a condition report.

Registering to Bid

If you want to bid for one or more items, you must register with Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in advance (if you have not done so previously). We use a paddle system like many other auctioneers.

We will need your name and address in order to register you. If you are unknown to us, we will also require proof of identity and residence (such as your passport or driving licence and a utility bill).

Remember that registration can take a few days to complete if you are not registering in person.

If you will be attending the auction in person, you will be issued with a paddle (usually a wooden 'bat' or a piece of card) with your unique number printed on it on arrival at reception. You use this to bid in the saleroom.


You can bid at our auctions in a number of different ways.

Attending the Sale

If you are bidding in person, you show that you want to bid by simply raising your paddle to catch the auctioneer's eye. If you are successful in buying the lot, the auctioneer will record your number as the buyer. When you have finished bidding for items, you can proceed to the Cashier's Office to settle your account before collecting your purchases. You will be able to take your items with you if you pay in cash. The same applies to credit or debit card payments.  If you pay by cheque, you will not be able to pick up your items until the payment has cleared.

Bidding by Telephone

If you have identified a high value lot, you can bid by telephone. You must register to do this before the sale starts so you can reserve a telephone line and a member of the saleroom staff to place your bid for you. Telephone Bidding is particularly suitable if you are unable to attend a sale in person. Telephone Bids are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and may be subject to a minimum estimate value for the lot in question.

Commission (or Absentee) Bid

You can leave a Commission Bid with us, either by telephone or by email or in person. You specify which lots you wish to bid for and stipulate the maximum value you are prepared to pay per lot on the form. This means that we can act on your written permission to secure an item for you as your representative for the lowest possible price. If you are a registered website user and have already completed the proof of identity and residence requirements, you can simply place commission bids for each lot by using the links on the lot page.

Live Internet Bidding

All of our auctions have Live Internet Bidding systems. You can register to bid directly through our website, using our BHL Live platform, which is free of charge. You can also bid on or Easylive, please note that these can occour additional fees (details of these fees are on the individual websites). You will need to register to use these services, as directed on their websites. You will find tutorials, videos and other guides at these sites to help you bid online successfully.

Buyers Premium

The conditions of sale oblige the buyer to pay a buyer’s premium at 25% + VAT (which totals 30% including VAT) in addition to the final hammer price.

After the Sale

If you were not present at the auction, you can check the hammer prices for any lot by checking the online catalogue for the sale. We publish the results very shortly after the completion of each sale.

If you are a registered web user, you can also elect to receive sale results by email.

Settling Your Account

The price you pay is the amount at which the auctioneer's hammer falls (the hammer price), plus a buyer's premium (a percentage of the final hammer price) and VAT where applicable.

If you attended the auction, you can settle immediately at our Cashier's Office. Alternatively, you can call us to settle your account using a payment card (although you will be liable for a surcharge) or you can send us a cheque by post. We also accept various forms of electronic fund transfers.

In any event, you should settle your outstanding account within three working days. You will not be able to take any items purchased until payment has been cleared.

You will be issued with an invoice made out to the name and address on your Registration Form.

Methods of Payment

All payments must be made in sterling.

The following methods of payment are available:-

  • Cash (up to £1,000)
  • Cheque
  • Sterling Bank Draft
  • Electronic Bank Transfer in Sterling
  • Credit Cards (Visa and MasterCard)
  • Debit Cards (Visa, Delta, Switch, Connect, etc)

Cheques and drafts should be made payable to Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Ltd.

Client Account

Bank transfers should be made to our client bank account. Please contact us on +44 (0)1392 413100 or by email for the details of this account.

Debit and Credit Card Payments

If a purchaser is unknown to the auctioneers and is intending to pay by credit or debit card we will require the card holder to attend in person with suitable photographic identification, otherwise payment is required by BACS/CHAPS or electronic bank transfer. As a general rule any cheques tendered will need to be cleared before removal of the goods is permitted. Please discuss with our office in advance of the sale if other methods of payment are envisaged.

Card payments where the cardholder is not present will only be accepted for transactions up to £1,000.

Clearance Times

Sterling cheques drawn on UK banks will generally clear on the fifth working day after receipt. Sterling bank drafts drawn on UK banks can generally be cleared immediately.

Bank transfers clear as soon as our bank receives funds (which does not happen instantaneously after payment instructions are given).

Credit and debit card payments can be cleared immediately, subject to confirmation with the card issuer.

Storage, Collections and Delivery

If you attended the auction in person and paid with anything other than a cheque, you will be able to take your purchases away with you as soon as you settle your account at our Cashier's Office.

If you are unable to take your purchases with you, we can suggest local agents who can arrange storage and shipping of your items or you can do this yourself.

Important Note

You should check out the small print of our Conditions of Sale and Information for Buyers.

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