reports surge in demand for collectables during lockdown


Britons are turning to online auctions for collectables and alternative investments during Covid-19 lockdown

• reports high demand for collectables and memorabilia

• Collectables up 19%; Watches up 13%; Memorabilia up 11%; Gold up 6%

• Auction houses respond by moving operations entirely online

Collectors Are Flocking To Online Auctions During COVID 19 Lockdown
Collectors are flocking to online auctions during COVID-19 lockdown, Europe’s leading marketplace for art & antiques auctions, has reported a significant increase in demand for collectables, vintage watches, memorabilia and gold coins in the month since the UK was put into lockdown. The items are often seen as alternative investments during times of economic uncertainty.

Always a popular item at auction, mechanical watches and vintage timepieces have seen a 13 per cent increase in demand on since 23 March. Sale prices have held firm, too. At the top end, a rare Rolex Cosmograph Daytona c.1970 took £32,000 hammer from a buyer on at a live online-only sale by Watches of Knightsbridge during the first week of lockdown.

Other bidders have been flocking to more affordable collectables – often for under £150 – such as Hornby trains, toys, comics and cigarette cards, which have seen a 19 per cent rise in demand. Sports fans haven’t been missing out either, with demand for sporting memorabilia, including football shirts and programmes up by 11 per cent.

As equity markets and oil markets continue to plunge, gold coins have also maintained a steady increase in demand in the past month, with bidders showing 6 per cent higher interest than usual in the coins on

John-Paul Savant, CEO of Auction Technology Group, which owns, said, “Traditionally during periods of economic uncertainty we would expect to see high demand for items seen as alternative investments – items perceived as a ‘safe haven’ because they hold or increase their value regardless of what is going on in the financial markets. That trend is playing out in the activity we’re seeing among bidders at auction. And of course, during a time such as this, others are simply using their time at home to start or continue on their journey of collecting as a hobby.”

Items that have seen the biggest increase in demand at auction on in the past month:

• Hornby trains                  96%  

• Blancpain watches          37%  

• Football programmes     30%  

• Comics                            28%  

• Heuer watches                19%  

• Rolex watches                 11%  

• Gold coins                       6%  

Attuned to the demands of bidders during the current climate, many auction houses have ramped up their activities in these categories. They have also changed their sales to ‘live online only’, with live bidding conducted online via (as well as the usual commission bidding and phone bidding), or to ‘timed online sales’ rather than live sales – a familiar format that has been growing steadily in popularity over the past year.

Savant continued, “ saw a 12 per cent month-on-month increase in new registrants at the end of March as auctions went fully online, and prices remain strong, too. Many auction houses specialising in collectables and investment pieces, such as watches and memorabilia, have moved their entire business online for the first time in the last four weeks – a move that has paid off as demand has soared. Fellows’ latest watch auction, for instance, was entirely online and attracted a record number of bidders.” lists the catalogues and runs the online auctions of hundreds of auction houses selling fine & decorative art, antique furniture, watches & jewellery, and collectables, up and down the country and internationally. Major auction houses that list their sales on include BonhamsFellowsCheffinsSwordersChiswick AuctionsDreweatts and Woolley & Wallis.

During Covid-19 restrictions, auction houses are going the extra mile to give buyers confidence in what they are purchasing and making the process easy for them when bidding online. For example, providing extra photos of each lot/item, remote viewing via video calls, online payment and ‘no contact’ delivery solutions, as well as generous terms for storage.

For the latest catalogues of upcoming collectables auctions visit

Image: Hornby LMS Princess Elizabeth, sold at Wallis & Wallis ‘Toys & Models’ auction’ on 6 April 2020 for £1,200 to a bidder on