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DROUOT'S GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS
Hammer price (Adjudication)
The word "adjugé" (sold) ends the bidding and transfers the title of ownership to the last bidder.
Bill of sale
(Bordereau d'achat)
The written proof of purchase given by the auctioneer to the buyer describes the lot, its period, dimensions, catalogue number, the auction price and the buyer's premium. The bill of sale acts as a guarantee and proof of payment and ownership in case of dispute or for insurance purpose.
Catalogue (Catalogue)
A printed booklet in which the items are numbered following the sequential order of the sale, described, and sometimes reproduced. Catalogues often contain the list of estimates. Written either by the auctioneers, or by experts or other specialists, they are an indispensable guide to attending or following a sale. Some are also found on the internet (www.drouot.com)
Assistant (Clerc)
Assistant to the auctioneer, he can give estimates and take an absentee bid.
Sale crier (Crieur)
During the sale he moves among the audience. As his job title indicates, he calls the bids. He also delivers the purchase slips.
Preemption
(Droit de préemption)
According to the law of December 21st 1921, the French Government has the right to purchase a work of art at auction, through the National museums, taking the last bidder's place. Acting once the last bid is called by the auctioneer, the Government representative uses its right of preemption, under the Minister of Culture's authority.
Bids (Enchères)
A price offer higher than the initial one or the preceding bids, during an auction sale. The purchaser is the last bidder to have offered the highest bid. If the auctionner notices bids simultaneously as he knocks down the hammer, he is authorised to put that particular lot back up for sale.
Estimate (Estimate)
Price or price range that should be close to the final price. The estimate is given by a person authorized by an auctionneer's office or Drouot-Estimations.
Label (Étiquette)
Handed out by the sales crier during an auction sale, allowing, after payment, to take possession of the bought object.
Auctioneer's office (Étude)
The office of a legal auctioneer, the only party authorized to conduct judicial sales, i.e. those required by law or the decision of a judge.
Expert (Expert)
The expert appraisal of an item includes its identification and evaluation. In most specialized sales, the person authorized to conduct the sale is assisted by one or more experts whose expertise is recognized in their own field and who carry out the research necessary to the qualification of the object. A list of authorized experts is established by the Council of Sales, even if the voluntary sales companies can work with freelance experts.
Crazy bid (Folle enchère)
On rare occasions, a careless bidder may be caught up in the bidding and find himself unable to pay the price. A "folle enchère" (literally "crazy bid") is then announced. The lot is auctioned again. If the new auction price does not reach the former one, the careless bidder will have to pay the difference!
Guarantee (Garantie)
A ten-year guarantee certifies the authenticity of the lot acquired as it is described in the official sale's record, the catalogue and the bill of purchase.
Private sale (Gré à gré)
Possibility for voluntary sales companies to sell works outside of public auction sales.
Inventory (Inventaire)
Document containing the list of expert assessments on a selection of fine furniture, most often accompanied by their estimates. It is realised at the occasion of the préparation of a contract for insurance, marriage, divorce, a civil partnership, a division/sharing, an inheritance…
Starting bid (Mise à prix)
The starting bid is usually half of the estimate of the lot.
Absentee bid (Ordre d’achat)
If you are unable to attend the sale, an absentee bid may be left with the auctioneer or his staff, indicating the maximum you want to bid. It will be carried out free of charge.
Reserve price (Prix de réserve)
The seller, in a confidential agreement with the auctioneer, may set a minimum price under which the item will not be sold. Since July 10 2000, it cannot be higher than the low estimate made public.
Sales report (Procès-verbal de vente)
List of items sold, in the order of their appearance at sale, which also includes, other than their description and their price, the name and addresses of the sellers and their buyers. It also reports any information given before or during the sale, notably any amendements to the cataglogue. The sales report therefore represents the transfer of ownership of each lot and remains the most important piece of proof in case of complaint or litigation.