What’s a Ringman?


A collector car auction is really a world of its own, complete with its own laws and lingo. The experience of attending one as a “foreigner” can be rather intimidating. The following glossary of terms commonly used at auctions should help take some of the mystery out of your first visit.

Consignor: The consignor is the person who has placed the car in the auction for sale.

Bidder: A bidder is an individual who is interested in buying a vehicle at the auction. Most auction companies require that all bidders be registered in advance. During this process, bidders receive a bidder number and, in many cases, an identification badge.

Absentee Bid: An absentee bid allows a person to bid without attending the auction. The person submits, in advance, a written or oral bid that is the top price that they are willing to pay. Only the clerk knows this amount and bids on behalf of the absentee bidder until the bidder either “wins” the item or his highest price is exceeded.

Lot Number: Each vehicle consigned to the auction is assigned a lot number. The lot number determines when the item will be auctioned.

Line List: The line list is a listing of the day’s items up for auction. The line list will usually display the lot number and a brief description of each item.

Reserve: The reserve is the minimum price a seller is willing to accept for property consigned to the auction. The auctioneer is made aware of the reserve price and it may or may not be disclosed to the public.

No Reserve: No reserve designates that the item is being sold to the highest bidder regardless of bid price. Under the “no reserve” method, the high bid is guaranteed to buy the item.

As Is: “As Is” designates that the property is being sold without any warranties as to its condition. Buyers are solely responsible for examining and judging the property for their own protection.

Ringmen: Ringmen are auction company employees who are positioned throughout the bidder area. Their function is to assist the auctioneer, spot bidders and assist prospective bidders with information to help them in their buying decision.

Buyer’s Premium: A buyer’s premium is an advertised fee, set by the auction company, that is added to the highest bid. The bid amount plus the buyer’s premium determines the total price to be paid by the buyer.

Conditions of Sale: The conditions of sale are the legal terms that govern the conduct of an auction, including the acceptable method of payment, terms, buyer’s premium, reserves or any other limiting factors of an auction.

Opening Bid: The opening bid is the first bid offered by a bidder at an auction.

Preview: The preview is the specified date and time, usually before the auction commences, that consigned property is available for viewing by prospective buyers.

Tie Bid: When two or more bidders bid exactly the same amount at the same time, it’s considered a tie bid. The auctioneer must resolve the conflict. During bidding, if the auctioneer recognizes a bid and a ringman has “taken” a bid at the same price, the auctioneer takes precedence.

Post Sale Lot: When vehicles do not sell on the block, they may go to the post sale lot where they may still be purchased.


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