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Absentee bid: A bid submitted in absentia, generally for bidders who are unable to attend the auction in person. A buyer submits the highest hammer price they are willing to pay for an auction lot, and the auctioneer bids up to that amount as needed on their behalf. The number of absentee bids on any given lot (if any) and their amounts are kept confidential. Absentee bids must be submitted at least 24 hours prior to the auction, and can be submitted by telephone, fax, email, or by using our online [submission form]. All absentee bids must be submitted on increment (see “Bid increment” below). If two absentee bids are placed at the same increment, the bid placed first receives preference.

As-is: All lots sold at John Moran Auctions are sold as-is, with all existing condition issues. We encourage our bidders to review our condition reports thoroughly and to inspect auction items in person whenever possible, as returns are not permitted.

Buyer’s Premium: A Buyer’s Premium is a percentage that an auction house charges buyers on top of the hammer price (winning bid amount) of each lot purchased.

Bid increment: The pre-determined amounts by which the auctioneer will advance the bid. Bidders submitting absentee bids must make sure that their bids follow the listed bid increments; Moran’s bid increments can be found on our [bidding] page as well as at the top of our bidder form.

Condition report: A description of the physical state of each and every auction lot. In the condition report, the cataloguer outlines damages, deterioration, wear, etc. Moran’s provides condition reports for every catalogued auction lot; however, such reports are not a guarantee, and we recommend reviewing auction lots in person whenever possible.

Conditions of Sale: The terms that dictate the rules and regulations of buying and selling property with John Moran Auctioneers. By registering to bid or consigning with Moran’s, you are agreeing to our [Conditions of Sale].

Consignor: A person or party on who has consigned their property for sale at auction.

Edition: A limited run of fine art prints (photographic, lithographic, serigraphic, etc.), bronzes or other objects produced in multiple and numbered consecutively.

Emergency bid: When submitting telephone bids, buyers have the option to leave a back-up absentee bid to be executed by Moran’s if we are unable to reach the bidder when their lot comes up or we lose connection during bidding.

Estimate: An estimated range of probable selling price for any given item. Items may sell below or above this range. Estimates are based on prices recently achieved by comparable items at auction.

Hammer price: The winning (highest) bid for a lot at auction when the auctioneer’s hammer falls. The hammer price does not include the Buyer’s Premium.

Inscribed: A dedication or notation on a work of art, generally executed in the hand of the artist. If a work appears to be inscribed by someone other than the artist, it will be noted as such.

Pass/Bought in: If there is no bidder competition, or if bidding does not reach the undisclosed reserve price, the lot will be “passed” by the auctioneer and goes unsold.

Preview: A scheduled time prior to the auction during which bidders are able to inspect auction lots in person. Private preview by appointment is also available and can be arranged by contacting the office at least two days prior to the auction date.

Price realized: The winning bid for a lot at auction (hammer price) plus the Buyer’s Premium. By registering to bid at auction, bidders agree to pay the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium and any applicable tax.

Provenance: A listing of the history of sale and/or ownership of an auction lot, if known.

Recto: The front side of a flat object such as a sheet of paper, coin or medal.

Registration: Before bidding in any of our auctions, our bidders must register for the sale, whether directly through us or through the online platform of their choice. For more information on bidder registration, please visit our [bidding] page.

Reserve: An undisclosed price under which an auction lot will not be sold. The reserve is set anywhere below and up to the low estimate.

Seller’s commission: The percentage of the hammer price that the consignor agrees to pay the auction house. Commissions are outlined at the time of the initial consignment proposal, as well on the written receipt.

Sight size: The visible dimensions of an artwork if framed, matted or otherwise obscured at the edges.

Starting bid/Opening bid: Bidding generally opens at half of the low estimate. If multiple competing absentee bids are left on a lot, the auctioneer may choose to open the bidding higher than half the low estimate.

Telephone bid: Buyers who are unable to attend the auction in person may bid live with a Moran’s agent by telephone. Bidders must register for telephone bidding at least 24 hours prior to the auction, and can do so via telephone, fax, email or by using our online [submission form].

Verso: The reverse/back of something.

Some terms are used exclusively with regard to fine or decorative art, and have specific meanings depending on their context. Please keep in mind that all catalogue entries are based on the best judgement of our specialists, and Moran’s does not guarantee the authenticity or description of catalogued lots. Examples of type-specific cataloguing formats and terms are as follows:

Fine Art

Example: Lot 1001: Artist’s Name (year of birth – year of death, location)

When a lot title includes only an artist’s name without any modifiers, this signals that in our best judgement, the work is in the hand of the artist listed.


Attributed to [Artist]: While not authenticated, it is in our specialists’ best judgement that this work can be ascribed to the listed artist, as it is executed in the artist’s style and can be reasonably dated within their working years.

Bears signature: This modified signature description signals that it is in our opinion that the signature is not in the hand of the artist listed.

Circle of [Artist]: While this work was executed within the listed artist’s working years, it was not done in his/her hand, and is in the style of the listed artist.

Estate stamp: After an artist’s death, unsigned works from his or her estate may be stamped with a facsimile of the artist’s signature by the person or party handling the estate.

Manner of [Artist]: While this work is executed in the style of the listed artist or is a copy of a known work by the listed artist, it was executed after the artist’s working years.

School of [Artist]: While this work was executed within the listed artist’s working years, it was not done in his/her hand, and is the work of a pupil or close follower of the listed artist.

Signed: When a work of art is described as being “signed” without any modifier, it is in our best judgement that the signature is in the hand of the artist listed.

Decorative Art

Example: 1002 A Louis XVI mantel clock

When a lot title includes specific mention of an era or date range without any modifiers, this signifies that it is in our opinion that the piece is original and of the period indicated. To the best of our ability, later restorations, repairs and alterations, if any, will be listed in the Condition Report.

Example: Lot 1002: A Louis XVI-style mantel clock

When a lot title includes the “style” modifier, this signifies that it is in our opinion that the piece is a reproduction or done in the manner of a specific design movement at a later date. Our catalogue entries for decorative art objects will generally include a specific date range or era outlining the object’s opined date of manufacture or creation.

Assembled set: A group lot of items in a matching pattern or style (such as a group of flatware in a particular pattern) which do not all date to the same period of manufacture or original owner.

Bears signature/stamp/maker’s mark: This modified signature/mark description signals that it is in our opinion that the signature is not in the hand of the artist, company or maker listed.

Marriage: An item that has been constructed of two or more different (but often similar or somewhat cohesive) pieces to make a whole.

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