ABOUT 03. Phone Bidding


Telephone bidding is a traditional form of bidding where the bidder executes their bids using the telephone through an auction house employee.

The Harmer family has used telephone bidding for decades.  In the very early days, we needed to reserve the line from the telephone company.  Making a telephone call was a substantial cost and staying on the line for several minutes.  In 1960 the cost of an international call was about $101 in today’s dollars for three minutes.  A fifteen-minute call would cost $500!  A call would be a significant cost for a bidder.

Harmers International does not charge for telephone bidding.

Success Factors

  • Reserve your slot for phone bidding early.
  • Leave at least two phone numbers as a backup.
  • Leave a bid with your phone agent – just in case.
  • Listen in to the broadcast and if your lot is close – call us.


  • If you do not hear from us the night before – call us.
  • If your lot is close (5-8 lots), call us – we may have trouble reaching you.
  • Make sure that your phone is charged and the ringer is on.
  • Waiting to the last minute to request phone bidding – agents are first come, first serve.

Telephone bidding is extremely reliable.  Harmers logs all phone bidders, and the auctioneer will typically hold the auction while we settle a telephone bidder.  Harmers uses landlines when possible to help ensure a good connection.  Most people have cell phones, and few areas have no reception making bidding by phone extremely convenient.  The cost of a phone call is minimal today, making phone bids the most cost-efficient way of bidding in our auction.  Using a telephone does not require any particular technology.  Being on the phone speaking to a live employee of Harmers, you can easily change your bid if the need arises.

Telephone bidding is the next best thing to bidding live.

What to Expect

When you see a lot or lots that you would like to bid on, call us as soon as possible to reserve an agent.  Early sign-up helps us to make sure we have enough staff on hand. We try our best to accommodate last-minute requests, but no guarantees.  When you register, we will ask for a phone number and a backup number just in case.  Please call our office if your plans or contact information changes.

On the night before the auction, or the morning of the auction, we will call to confirm your numbers and the lots you wish to bid on.  Call us if you have not received a call – just in case.

On the day of the auction, listen to the auction either via SAN or phone.  We will typically call you 5-8-10 lots before your item or section, and we progress at approximately 100 lots per hour.   We recommend that you leave bids with your agent to execute in the event you are unreachable.  These bids are not shared with the auctioneer but will be executed live in the event we cannot reach you by phone.  To find out what lot is currently being called, you can simply call our office or log on to Stamp Auction Network.

Once you and your attendant are on the telephone, you will listen to the auction and ask the agent for information if you cannot hear the auctioneer.   Tell your agent when you would like to bid, and they will be your voice. Please be considerate of other bidders.

If you are a successful bidder, your attendant will provide an AGB bidder number – your name will not be revealed to the floor unless you would like to comment a friend on the floor.  All Harmer’s phone bidders will have AGB bidder numbers. This is a tradition that is decades old to honour Alexander Graham Bell.

A day or two after the sale our office will contact you to arrange delivery.

There is never a charge for this service.

Strenths and Weaknesses