How To Bid

**If you are a SAN bidder please see “Live Internet Bidding” below to learn how to get your FREE Stamp Auction Network membership.**

Advance Bidding Bidding takes place subject to our Terms & Conditions of Sale. We accept bids in the time-honoured tradition: you can mail us a printed bidsheet (included with the print catalogue and also available for download from our site), or fax it to us at 613-567-2972. We will record your bids if you call us at 613-567-3336 with your bidding information. E-mail bids also work well; simply provide the lot number and your maximum bid in Canadian dollars. NB: If you mail us a bidsheet, please call before the sale to confirm that we have received it. Our toll-free number is 844-252-2032.

Telephone Bidding We can arrange for you to participate in the sale via telephone, as per our Terms & Conditions of Sale. Phone bidding must be arranged at least one day in advance so we can assign a staff person to call you at the time the lots you want come up for sale. In general, telephone bidding is best for more expensive items. We encourage bidders in most instances to instead leave a proxy bid with an agent, or to use Live Bidding on Stamp Auction Network to make sure their bids are executed in the way they would like. Please contact us for more information at 613-567-3336.

Auction Agents An agent on the floor is a good way to make sure your bidding intentions are well-represented if you cannot participate in person. Auction agents can view material, execute OR bids and limit bids, and maintain your anonymity if desired. We recommend the following agents.

Jamie Hennebury
Frank Mandel
Nick Martin, LoveAuctions UK
(44) 0120546 0968
Jean-Claude Michaud
902-443-5912, 902-456-0950 (cell)

For the most satisfying and realistic experience akin to being on the auction floor, you should become familiar with Live Internet Bidding.

**Live Internet Bidding

Live Bidding Live bidding on the internet allows bidders anywhere in the world to participate in the auction. Sparks Auctions is pleased to make the auction available through Stamp Auction Network, and we will do everything we can for our customers to make the process simple, trustworthy and fun.

Connect to Stamp Auction Network (SAN) at:

Register and create a user name, which will allow you to choose auction firms to bid with, including Sparks Auctions. We will approve you to bid as soon as possible during normal business hours. If your application was made more than one month ago, please re-submit. Once registered, you must also take a membership in order to bid in all SAN auctions, including ours. As the owner of SAN told auction companies recently, bidders “can take an annual FREE subscription which will allow them to have all the functionality they have now. It is renewable in perpetuity.”

To sign up for your FREE SAN membership today, please:

  • From the SAN main page, click the “Compare Plans and sign up for a paid or free membership” line in red. This link will bring you to the “Sign up for Membership Page”. This page will outline the various membership options. To find the FREE option, scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • Click on the Free 1 Year Membership option. Once you click, you will be returned to the SAN main page and you will shortly receive an email from SAN confirming that you have been subscribed. You will then have the same bidding capability as you do now.

The Approval Process

We need to confirm your account before you will be able to place bids with us. Details that will help us quickly approve you for bidding include:

  • Philatelic references (including eBay feedback, other auction houses you’ve dealt with etc.)
  • Philatelic memberships (APS, RPSC, BNAPS, etc.)
  • Your own professional website (stamp-related or otherwise)
  • A valid e-mail address (we will not approve you if your e-mail bounces)
  • Credit Card number (Visa, MC or AMEX, with expiry date and CVC code)
  • Call us at 613-567-3336

A complete bidder registration with many of these details included will result in a speedy approval. Unless you have established a positive buying history with us, payment must be made before lots are shipped, preferably by eTransfer, but we also accept credit card (2.5% convenience fee applies), cheques, money orders and cash.

The On-Line Auction

Once you have been registered and approved by us, and activated your FREE SAN membership, you can:

Keep Track of Lots You Are Interested In, and Place Bids On-line at any time before the auction begins. This is similar to any other form of advance bidding (ie., sending us a bidsheet by mail, fax, etc.), but you will receive acknowledgement of your bids once they are submitted, and, if you wish, further confirmation by e-mail if you are outbid. If you are signed in, you can keep track of your bids using the Stamp Auction Network “My Bids” option, which shows your bids along with the lot description and photo.

Prior to the auction, we send notices at regular intervals confirming and updating your bids. If you have been outbid on an item, this will be noted, along with the amount you would now have to bid to remain in contention. The process is not automated, however. Particularly in the days and hours immediately before the sale begins, rapid changes may occur in the openings, so you should check Stamp Auction Network to make sure you continue to be ahead on the lots you want to win.

Watch and Listen To The Auction You can place and update your online bids at any time, as long as the lot is still open. On auction day, it is best to follow the sale using the Live Bidding screen, reached by the “Confirm and Join Public Auction In Progress” link on the Table of Contents page. It is also important to listen to the audio broadcast of the auction on your computer. Sound is provided via your web browser using an Adobe Flash plugin. This works on all types of computers. Sound lag is less than 1s. You will see this when the auction message says “Sold to buyer ### for $$$;” the time it takes for the next lot to appear is approximately the lag time between your setup and our auction floor.

We monitor the sound and will take steps to correct issues as soon as they occur. If you lose your sound, first try closing/quitting and re-opening your internet browser. Internet speed is not the only determinant of smooth bidding and sound playback. If you are at work behind a firewall, there may be problems (including dropouts and buffering) that you don’t see when surfing to proxied or non-filtered websites.

For brevity, the auctioneer will sometimes omit the 1000s portion of the lot number. Be careful that the lot you see on the screen is the one you mean to bid on.

Stamp Auction Network bidding screen

Bid Live by watching action on-screen (see screenshot above). The Message window will tell you which lot is being offered, what the current bid is, and if it is approaching Last Call. If you are logged in and have been approved by us, you will see the bidding buttons.

You place a bid by clicking the button with the amount of your next bid. The next six increments over the current bid are shown, and these change dynamically as the bidding goes up. If you’re approved with us and logged in, the current bidding will be shown in green (“Selling to you for C$$$“) or red (“Selling to another bidder for C$$$…“).

The bid buttons will change to reflect the current bids, and they change quickly. Be careful when you’re clicking a button that the amount is what you intend to offer. If you make a mistake, however, you may retract your bid if necessary. Don’t be afraid to jump your bid to the maximum you are willing to pay — we will purchase the item at one increment above the underbid, not at your top bid. Your bid is not visible  to the auction floor or the public website, only to the auctioneer and internet auction manager.

The message window will give a good indication of how the bidding is progressing. We attempt to call 100 lots/hour. We are of course not trying to miss any bids! Going means bidding has slowed/stopped and we’re asking if there are any more bids. Last Call means what it says; we will hammer down the lot within seconds. If you wait until Last Call to up your bid, you may miss out.

Occasionally you may submit a Live Bid that seems to be the top amount, but the red “Selling to another bidder” message remains. This means we had an earlier bid of the same amount which takes precedence. We will issue the message “We have a prior bid you must bid more” to let you know.

You may place a Live Bid even on lots where you have advance bids. The “Selling to you for $$$” message will still appear. You may even increase your bid if you decide to do so. Be careful, though, as you should wait until the bidding level has passed the amount you submitted in advance. If not, you may end up bidding against yourself and paying one increment too many.

When an item is sold, the hammer price is announced.

The Live Bidding page will refresh more quickly if you click the Hide Images button.

Finally, if you decide live internet bidding is not for you, go ahead and place proxy bids either via Stamp Auction Network or a faxed or e-mailed bidsheet. As always, we will purchase material as much below your maximum bid as possible; ie., at one increment over the underbid.

Some Live Bidding Tips

Bid Early Do not hesitate to press the button for the maximum amount you are willing to pay. This is comparable to keeping your hand up on the auction floor. The bidding will only reach your maximum if another bidder reaches the increment below (ie., an underbid). If you try to “snipe” and wait until the last second to send your bid, we will send the message “We are sorry, your bid did not reach the floor in time.” We hate to reject bids in this way, but we can’t continually slow down the sale to wait for cautious bidders.

Listen To The Auctioneer Use audio so you can hear the auctioneer. You will know where the bidding is, and have a better sense of whether an item has reached Last Call.

Pass When You Are Done If you have been actively bidding on an item and wish to drop out, please press the PASS button (appears once you are an active bidder). If you do not, the whole auction can be delayed while we wait to see if you will make another bid. Eventually, we will stop waiting.

Currencies We provide approximate currency conversions on the bidding screen so that buyers can have an idea of the bidding level translated to their local currencies. Our invoices are in Canadian Dollars.

“Send a Message to the Auction Floor” is helpful for timely messages that can be addressed immediately by the auctioneer, such as asking promptly if a lot can be reopened or letting us know you aren’t receiving sound etc. This is a one-way message to alert us to a problem. More complicated issues (your bid wasn’t accepted; you missed a lot; you are uncertain about the outcome of a previous lot) will require a phone call or e-mail to our offices.

Bidding Increments

Please bid using these increments. The auctioneer may “split” an increment or accept a bid that does not fall exactly on these increments. Advance bids that do not conform to these stated increments will be rounded to the nearest increment.
All bidding in our auctions is done in Canadian Dollars. (See XE.COM for current exchange rates.)

From $10 to $200 $10
$200 – $800 $25
$800 – $1,500 $50
$1,500 – $3,000 $100
$3,000 – $7,000 $200
$7,000 – $15,000 $500
$15,000 – $30,000 $1,000
$30,000 – $100,000 $2,000
$100,000 – $500,000 $5,000
Above $500,000 $10,000