Buying with Sworders

At Sworders we want to make buying at auction, either in the saleroom or online, as easy and enjoyable as possible. With both specialists and client services available, whatever your interest or query we are always on hand to help.


How To Bid


In Person

To bid in person at auction for the first time please register for a bidding paddle in advance by filling out and submitting a registration form at our front desk. When registering in person we require photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence.

Live Internet Bidding

Sworders is pleased to offer a live online bidding service on our free bidding platform SwordersLive.

Live online bidding offers an excellent auction experience without being in the room, SwordersLive is complete with live audio and video feeds to enable you to watch and hear the auction as it happens wherever you are in the world.  There are no online bidding fees when using SwordersLive and the system enables you to see the source of opposing bids as they happen.

A Bid Live button will appear on our home page when the sale is live, simply click this to sign in and register. 

New users will need a Sworders online account to participate in live auctions via SwordersLive. Once you have created your account and registered card details, you will be approved to bid.

Create an account

Absentee Bidding

For absentee bids, Sworders bid on your behalf and attempt to purchase the lot for you at the lowest possible price, allowing for other bids and any reserve price, up to your pre-submitted maximum bid.

Absentee bids can be left either online through your Sworders account, in person at our saleroom or emailed directly to us at (please ensure that you supply us with your full name, postal address, email address, and contact numbers and relevant forms of identification, to enable us to register your bids). We will always confirm your bids by email, so please contact us if you do not receive this. 

Absentee bids can be left up to an hour before the start of any sale. Please note when we receive two or more absentee bids on the same lot for the same amount, we will prioritise the first bid received.

If you would like to leave an absentee bid on a forthcoming sale, click here

Telephone Bidding

You can also bid by telephone which enables you to speak directly to a member of our staff in the auction room.  Your operator will relay the auctioneers’ bids back to you and, on your instruction, bid on our behalf.

Bid amounts do not include buyers premium. We normally offer this service for lots with a low estimate in excess of £500. Requests to bid by telephone need to be made before 4pm, the day before the sale.


Browse An Auction & Create Your Account

Visit Sworders’ calendar to explore our online-only auctions and view the lots that interest you.
New users will need a Sworders online account to register and bid in our online-only auctions and to participate in live auctions via SwordersLiveOnce you have created your account and registered card details, you will be approved to bid.

Create an account

Sign In To Your Online Account & Confirm Your Bid

Now that you have an online account once you log in and you will be ready to bid. Please note that we are unable to post commission bids on your behalf in a timed auction.

View the auction for those lots that you are interested in.  You can see what the current bidding on that lot has reached together with our guide estimates of its value.  You can leave a new maximum bid at any point during the bidding period.  The value you bid excludes buyer’s premium of 30% (including VAT) except for our Fine Wine & Spirits auctions when the buyers premium is 18% (including VAT) which will be paid in addition.

A countdown clock is placed under every lot on the lot detail page for you to keep track on the time remaining to bid before the lot is closed. The sale will close one lot at a time, in sequential order.

If at any time during the auction you are outbid you will receive an email notifying you, giving you the chance to increase your bid.

If a new highest bid is placed during the last 5 minutes before a lot closes, the end time for that lot will be extended by another 5 minutes until there are no more bids remaining.  A lot of bidding activity happens in those final minutes, so keep monitoring the lots you are interested in!

If you are unable to follow the sale to its end, simply enter your maximum amount and select ‘Set Max Bid’. Sworders’ will bid on your behalf up to and including this amount.

Please note - To view your current bids in our timed auctions please visit

Paying For Your Purchase

Once all lots in the online-only sale are closed, you will receive an email confirming whether your bids are successful or not. For successful bids, the message will also include payment and shipping options.  The easiest way to pay is by card via the link on the email, though more options are detailed this page below. 

We may be able to arrange shipping of small items for you, otherwise you can arrange your own shipping or collect your purchase from our Stansted saleroom.

Contact Us

For further assistance, you may also contact us by email at, or by telephone (Monday - Friday, 9:00 am – 5.00 pm) at 01279 817778.

Things To Consider When Buying At Auction


We highly recommend that potential bidders gather as much information as possible regarding a lot before placing a bid. If you are unable to view a lot in person you may request a condition report and/or additional images of a lot. If you would like a report on the condition of your lot(s) you can view them from the online catalogue when they become available or request one at

Please be aware that we receive a large volume of requests for additional information prior to an auction and whilst we endeavour to reply to all enquiries in a timely fashion, we may not be able to provide a full report until the last few days before the auction.



All purchases are subject to a buyers premium of 25% plus VAT except for our Fine Wine & Spirits auctions when the buyers premium is 15% (VAT is not applicable to Books). When you successfully bid on any lot, the price you pay will be the hammer price (the value you bid at the auction), plus the buyers premium.



Lots marked with an asterisk (*) indicates that the law dictates the lot will be subject to additional Artists Resale Right charges. Artist's Resale Right was introduced by a European Directive in 2006 to ensure that artists receive a royalty when their work is resold by an auction house or gallery. This Right applies to living artists and to those who have died within the last 70 years. This royalty is paid by the purchaser on top of the hammer price if the sale price reaches or exceeds 1000 euros. The amount payable is on a sliding scale - e.g. up to 50,000 euros, the royalty rate is 4% of the sale price. The maximum royalty a work can earn is capped at 12,500 euros. For full details click here



Payment is accepted by cash, cheque, bank transfer, credit or debit card. We accept cash to an upper limit of 10,000 euros equivalent. We accept credit card payments to an upper limit of £5,000. Usually any cheques will need to be cleared before you can take the goods away. Please be aware that cheque clearance will take eight days from deposit. We will only release goods to a third party upon receipt of identification and authority from the purchaser. Please refer to our full terms and conditions.



Please click here to be taken to our Collection and Shipping page.




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