London, 14 July 2009

On June 30 at Holloways auctioneers of Banbury, Oxfordshire, a carved Indian Mughal ivory khandjar handle sold for £24,000 to a buyer bidding live via the internet. It was the highest recorded sale in the first six months of 2009 for, the leaders in UK of live online antiques bidding.

The 6in (15cm) long handle, which was modelled as a panther's head with a collar of bell-flowers and raised palmetted decoration to the bifurcated hilt, was consigned by a local Indian family, who had owned it for sometime. Thought to date from the late 18th or early 19th century, the handle was in good condition, and was estimated to sell for £1200-1500.

But, having been spotted by a private collector before the bidding began, the online buyer located in London then outbid other interested trade and private buyers in the room, to buy it eventually for 20 times its estimated price. Nick Williams, owner of Holloways, said: "Before the sale, we thought it might make around £10,000, but I don't mind admitting I never thought it would make as much as £24,000."

The sale of the Mughal ivory khandjar handle is not the only evidence that buyers are increasingly prepared to pay large sums during live auctions online if the circumstances are right.

In the last three months alone, sale prices for items sold at live auctions on the via have included:

  • $26,000 paid by a US buyer for an American Arts & Crafts table in May at Treadway Toomey Galleries auctions in Oak Park, Illinois;
  • $31,000 paid by a bidder in China for a rare silver pattern dollar from Yunnan Province, sold in Hong Kong;
  • £14,500 paid by a buyer from Germany for a Mediterranean seascape oil painting sold by Canterbury Auction Galleries in Kent.

And in November 2008, a bidder paid £38,000 for a cello via a live auction on the site. "Our improved technology and better after-sales service are helping to build buyers' confidence," said Anne Somers, Chief Executive of ATG Media Ltd, who own and operate "Bidders know that they are buying from established bricks-and-mortar auction houses and can see and hear the action as it takes place in the saleroom. Sellers know that only officially-registered, bonafide bidders can compete for lots. Private collectors are becoming increasingly comfortable with buying online - a trend likely to continue for some years to come."

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