A layman or even some collectors are more familiar with the traditional in person bidding that takes place in a charged up sale-room where the auctioneer’s hammer falls and decides the winner as the bid paddles keep going up and down. Another interesting technique of auctioning is the silent auction which is more commonly used as a fundraising technique. The silent auctions are quite often favored as a means to raise money at charitable events as it does not take the attention away from the glamor of the entertainment provided for the occasion.
In a silent auction the setup is quite simple. The works that are meant to be auctioned are displayed with the minimum bid and other details written out just next to each. Interested bidders may approach the work they are interested in and write their bid down on a piece of paper placed next to it. The bidding is mostly open for each subsequent bidder to know that they need to bid higher than the last. In case the bidder is really interested in the work of art, they have the option to go back to it and bid again.
In another format all bids stay private as the bidders put their bids down on a piece of paper and deposit these to be opened later. At the end of the auction all the bids are opened, listed, and compared. The highest bidder is the winner as he wins the artwork for the quoted price.
The silent auction format is also popularized on the online platform with sites like eBay, where people can bid for objects they want to buy and can see other bids that are made for the same. As there is no contact between the buyer, seller, or auctioneer till after the auction is over, hence it is termed as a silent auction. Much like the charitable silent auctions, there is a time limit here too, within which the bids must all be submitted. On eBay the time limit may be for days, even weeks, whereas in the charitable silent auctions the time limit is only till the event continues, which may be a few hours at most.
The silent auctions are beneficial for the charitable organizations or foundations as they save up on the cost of hiring an auctioneer and the bidding continues without interrupting the main event, which is the focal point of the evening. However, in a silent auction, the bidding is generally not as high as a traditional auction; the bidders have a lot of time to consider the buy. A traditional auction plays on the impulse of the bidder as a skilled auctioneer steers the bidders to go higher and contribute more than they might do otherwise. In case of a traditional auction or even an open bid silent auction, where all the bidders know what others are spending actually influences them to go higher than they intended to. It is for this reason that sometimes the charitable events hold a combination of the two types of auctions, to gain full benefit of both.