PRESS: Did you spot the bids from | BBC Bargain Hunt

Our Head of Content, Matt Ball, explains where internet bidding comes in to TV auction shows, and finds some brilliant items that have been bought on Bargain Hunt via

When you watch an auction during an antiques show on TV and the auctioneer says they are taking bids “from the internet” in many cases they mean “from bidders on”.

That is because many auction houses in the UK, and around the world, list their auctions on and broadcast them live to enable people to bid online in real time along with people who are attending the auction in person or bidding by telephone.

At many auctions that appear on the BBC show Bargain Hunt, for example, internet bidders are among those buying the lots being sold.

As a bit of fun, our art & antiques team have been watching the latest episodes of Bargain Hunt (filmed pre-COVID-19) to spot items bought by users of The objects shown here are just a small selection, and they highlight the range of different objects you can find at auction – from the decorative to the useful to the rather quirky.

Bargain Hunt contestants Lucy (left) and Beka (centre) getting just a little excited next to their expert Stephanie Connell as their wooden crocodile makes them a tidy profit; On Bargain Hunt you will often see the auctioneer’s bidding panel screen of Images via BBC iPlayer items on Bargain Hunt

The contestants have £300 with which to make three purchases and they then hand over the remaining cash to their expert who makes a ‘bonus buy’. This means you are unlikely to see great works of art on Bargain Hunt, but it is a fun show to watch.

It also provides a simple introduction to auctions by showing you how the auctioneer assesses and values items and how they get to work on the rostrum taking bids from people in the room, on the phone and online (of course, since COVID-19 there are usually fewer or no people in the room these days but the auctions are still taking place). The auction houses and auctioneers appearing on the show are, in most cases, ones whose sales you can bid on using

Bargain Hunt also demonstrates a key point: buying at auction can land you a very good deal. Ironically, that is best illustrated by the fact that many of the contestants make a loss because the items they bought at a fair or antiques centre (what we would call ‘retail’) sell for less when offered at auction (what we would call ‘wholesale’).

Of course, sometimes with the help of an expert they uncover a hidden gem that does sell for more at auction, which also proves that when a number of very keen bidders compete for the same item the price can go up quickly.

Here we have picked some objects that made the contestants a profit, some that were snapped up at auction for a lower price than the contestants paid and one that broke even.

Right, let’s go Bargain Hunting!

Bargain Hunt crocodile.jpg

This large carved wooden crocodile was a hit with internet bidders who loved its quirkiness. Bought at a fair for £200 by the blue team of Lucy and Beka (undoubtedly the two most enthusiastic contestants the show has ever hosted), it sold for £320 at Wessex Auction Rooms to a bidder on on 16 February 2019, making them a £120 profit. Image via BBC iPlayer.


The same contestants bought this rather nice Edwardian silver sugar caster, dated 1907, for £60. They hit break even when the caster sold in the same auction for £60 to a buyer on


This set of W and T Avery brass scales on a mahogany base came with two sets of weights but the sets were not complete. It sold at Peter Wilson of Nantwich to a bidder last November for £50, whereas the contestants had originally shelled out a chunky £100 for it.


Adam Partridge offered this drinking bear toy last December when it was knocked down for £40, netting the contestants £25 profit. “Life doesn’t get much better than this: a battery-operated drinking bear,” quipped auctioneer Adam Partridge in December 2019 as he offered this Japanese plush and tin plate toy dating from around the 1950s at his Liverpool auction house.

stationary box.jpg

This Edwardian oak stationery box sold for £80 on via Lichfield auction house Richard Winterton, having been bought for slightly more, £84, by the contestants on Bargain Hunt during the Three Day Home & Interior Sale last October.



Antique and vintage travelling trunks are popular items at the moment. And the good news is that there are plenty of them at auction. As a result, they tend to be good value for the buyer. This was neatly proved by the £70 paid by a bidder on for this early 20th century trunk at the same sale at Richard Winterton in October 2019. The contestants had paid a little bit more for it and lost £9.

pin cushion.jpg

If you follow an auction held by Special Auction Services on you may see Thomas Forrester on the rostrum. On the episode of Bargain Hunt broadcast on August 20, 2020, however, he was the expert not the auctioneer. He helped the red team buy this Art Deco cast metal novelty pin cushion in the form of a German shepherd dog for just £38. This sort of thing can be popular with both collectors who are willing to pay good money for that special item they do not already have and it could also appeal to dog lovers. It was sold for £210 to a buyer on via Hansons Auctioneers in March 2018.


Nineteen jugs for £35? Now, that’s what we call a bargain. This collection of stoneware jugs was sold at an auction held by Bigwood in November 2019. The price paid by the buyer on works out at less than £2 a jug, proving just how much you can save when you buy second-hand at auction. At a fair the Bargain Hunt contestants had originally paid £90.

original (1).jpg

Furniture at auction can be great value. This nest of rather stylish Italian tables sold for just £45 to a buyer on at an auction held by Maxwells in August 2019. The Bargain Hunt contestants had paid a rather optimistic £98.

If you are now ready to start your own bargain hunt, it’s time to check out the list of current auctions on

And if you are new to auctions check out our guides on how to bid at auctions. Once you get started you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Lead image credit: BBC iplayer