Welcome to Stephan Welz & Co.


BUYING AT AUCTION....   (Please scroll down for "SELLING AT AUCTION")




Whether your interest is art, paintings, sculpture, jewellery, stamps, books, maps, ceramics, silver, vertu, watches, clocks or furniture, take a moment to consider how our experience can improve your experience. We will always do our best to realise the highest possible price for the seller whilst offering the buyer the most cost-effective route to the ownership of items with the best long-term investment potential.

Before each auction, as items are consigned to us, they are receipted, then catalogued and “lotted up”, being given a lot number and becoming part of a sale. The end of this process takes two forms. The first is the highly sought-after Stephan Welz & Company full colour catalogue which is something of a collector’s item in its own right. Secondly, the website is updated with all the lots and supporting images. Visit us on www.swelco.co.zait's quite an experience in itself.  ... 

Before each auction, in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, all items included in the sale are put on display for viewing. This is usually for a weekday or two and often for a weekend or part of a weekend prior to the actual auction.

Both in our catalogues and on our website, you will notice that lots are shown with a low and a high estimate from our specialists, this being part of the pre-sale service to sellers. Through experience gleaned from the market and exposure to literally tens of thousands of lots within their area of specialisation, our specialists are able to estimate the likely range within which a sale at auction will be made. This is only possible by being “in tune” with the market and being sensitive to its changes, preferences and fashions.  We do tend to be conservative, however, which is one of the reasons that we achieve such a high percentage of sales within the published estimate range. In reality, through our conservative policy we attract more buyers to our auctions and this often results in higher prices, over what we estimate in many cases.

Stephan Welz & Co. does not offer any “retail” alternatives to buying and selling at auction. Our sale room is the focus of all our activities, and our auctions are primarily supported by our catalogues and our website with press advertising providing further communications support. We do not offer any form of “shopping” either in our sale room or through any other medium. This means that either in person, on the phone or by registering an absentee bid, you have to be part of the auction action to be part of the experience.


If practical, this is the most rewarding way to experience and enjoy an auction.

We seriously recommend that you try to visit us during the viewing periods before the   auction itself. The benefit of examining the lots in which you are interested is that you can inspect the lot in as much detail as you wish and, in addition to that, you can talk to our specialists who will be happy to address any questions you may have. Apart from familiarising yourself with the items in which you are specifically interested, an advance viewing can easily open the door to an alternative purchase, or even an extra purchase if your budget allows.

As for bidding during the sale itself, always make sure that you know in advance in which session your selected lot numbers are being sold. You must pre-register yourself for the auction and you will be issued with a bidder’s number and a numbered “paddle” to use when making a bid in the sale room. The auctioneer must be able to see that you are making a bid, identify your number and allocate your bid to the particular lot being sold. Thus the numbered “paddle” is a very important part of the process.

Your bidder registration number and matching numbered “paddle” may be used for any of the individual sessions within an auction, which can span up to three days, and normally comprises between two and six sessions. Please don’t take your numbered “paddle” home as apart from its cost, keeping track of issued and applicable numbers is a key part of the control of bidding and bidders at an auction.

Once the session starts, you’ll find it exciting and before you know it, you’ll be bidding for your selected lot or even lots of lots. The auctioneer will guide you forward in bidding and you will soon get into the swing of the normal incremental bidding system. Just listen to the sequence of the bids and you'll find it's all quite logical, being a system born from a generally accepted and expected 10% increase per bid. This is controlled by the auctioneer, however, and the increment is always at his or her discretion. During bidding, the auctioneer will always acknowledge your bid and state the current amount reached.

If the bidding fails to reach the item’s confidential reserve, the item will not be sold. This reserve price is the amount beneath which an item will not be sold. The reserve is agreed during the valuation process and remains confidential at all times. However, the reserve price will never be above the low estimate. In the case of Stephan Welz & Company’s operating standards, if the reserve is not reached,  the auctioneer will state that the lot is “unsold”.

After the auction, the process of payment and the co-ordination of collection or delivery will be controlled by our staff. It’s worth remembering that we take bank cheques, credit cards except American Express and Diners’ Card, and cash up to R5000. Please check in advance if you wish to make any special arrangements


This bidding system enables you to bid for a selected lot (or any number of lots) when you are not in a position to make a bid in person or over the phone. An absentee bid is also known as a Written Bid or a Commission Bid. The auctioneer will have the pre-registered amount up to which he or she can bid on your behalf in the  “auctioneer’s book” in which your maximum bid is recorded next to the lot in question to ensure you are part of the process.

The professional objective is to make a successful bid on your behalf at the lowest increment above any competitive bids. However, we cannot accept an instruction without limits.

We publish absentee bid forms on our website and in our catalogues and the detailed conditions of absentee bidding are re-stated there for you. Please remember that while this is a free service and we will always do our utmost to secure your selected lot at the best possible price, we cannot accept liability for failure to place bids, no matter the cause.

After the auction, successful absentee bidders will receive an invoice for the hammer price plus buyer’s premium and applicable VAT.


If you have visited one of our auctions, or any significant art auction around the world, you will probably have noticed a row of staff members seated at a desk or custom-designed telephone bank to one side near the front of the sale room. These individuals are there to carry out telephone bid instructions received by clients over the phone as the auction proceeds.

The basic process is that we phone you at a pre-agreed telephone number a short while before the lot in which you are interested is due to be auctioned. We keep you briefly informed as the actual auction of the lot approaches and then talk you through the process of lodging bids on your behalf. The auctioneer knows there are telephone bids in the offing as the staff members with interested clients on the line stand up to signify their possible participation. Once the auctioneer feels that the “floor”, the bidders “in the room”, have reached a current peak of bidding, the telephone bidders will be invited into the process.

We use terminology like “Sir (or Madam), the bidding has reached R55000, the next bid will be R60 000, would you like to bid?”  A simple “yes” or “no” instruction is received. If it’s a “no”, the staff member will say “no” or signify a negative response to the auctioneer and will sit down. If it’s a “yes”, the auctioneer will then state the bid of R60 000 to the room for possible response. In other words, the telephone bidder has a representative on line to bid on his or her behalf at the actual time of the auction. It’s a very participative way to bid and little of the excitement is lost.

The absentee bid form produced in our catalogues and on our website states all the conditions that apply, and as in any situation where a third party is acting on your behalf to spend your money, conditions and safeguards apply. One of the main conditions is that you pre-register your telephone bid intentions in advance of the auction. The rule is “at least 24 hours before the sale” but with the number of telephone lines being strictly limited, we would suggest earlier registration.

Telephone bids are accepted at the sole discretion of Stephan Welz & Co. and are at the prospective buyer’s risk. All incoming and outgoing aspects of each telephone bid will be recorded for the benefit and security of both parties, with the client being advised of the recording at the commencement of the process.

Whichever way you decide to buy at auction, you can rest assured that everyone at Stephan Welz & Co. Is there to help you make the most of the experience.

Looking forward to seeing you “in the room” soon.



The whole point behind the experience delivered by Stephan Welz & Co. is that YOU, as a seller, benefit from being in the best of company. The buyers who visit our auctions are informed, discerning and competitive and the item or items you offer for sale by auction will be part of a carefully selected range of similarly desirable items. You will also benefit from the skills of our departmental specialists and professional auctioneers whose objectives have remained true to the centuries-old target of achieving the highest possible hammer price for our sellers.

Yet the process is simplicity itself. Once you have decided what you want to sell, the Stephan Welz & Co. team is at your service to guide, advise, estimate and take care of your property with all the care and attention you could wish for.

It starts by you making contact with the Stephan Welz & Co. office that best matches your geographic location. If you are not sure which specialist department with which you should make initial contact, just phone our Johannesburg reception on 011 880 3125 or our Cape Town reception on  021 794 6461 and we’ll put you through to the right department. It could be paintings, jewellery, silver, ceramics, furniture, watches and clocks, stamps, maps, books or others under the general heading of “antiques” or “collectables” or “items of vertu”. Once you have established contact, the next stage is to arrange a personal consultation with one of our specialists. Obviously, the best way is for you to visit our showrooms with the items you have for sale. This way, an evaluation and a pre-sale estimate can be calculated from first-hand experience. However, there are alternatives to this where distances make a personal visit impossible. The use of high resolution digital pictures and email communication has increased markedly over the last few years. But, talk it over with your specialist and the best applicable route to sales success will be chosen.

Incidentally, our company conducts valuation trips to a wide range of out-of-town venues from time to time. It may well be that we will be visiting your region at some stage, and your specialist will advise you accordingly. If it happens that we are going to be in your area, you’ll be pleased to know that the service is free, though in most cases you will have to bring your items for sale to the temporary valuation site, normally in a hotel, conference centre or place of local interest.

Once a decision has been made regarding the valuation of the item or items you are consigning to us to sell on your behalf, your specialist will agree with you the reserve price to be used. This reserve price is an important element of your contract with us. It is the confidential “floor price”, the lowest price at which a bid will be accepted and beneath which no bid will be accepted. If an item fails to reach its reserve, it will not be sold. We would also agree with you the high and low pre-sale estimates. At this point, all the documentation would be completed to take your goods into our company and under our insurance cover. The costs involved for photography (where applicable) and the seller’s commission that applies will be explained and documented. 

Really, it is as simple as that as our tried and trusted processes and procedures take over.  The administrative side of things is all part of our service. We can arrange shipping and transport before and after the sale. In fact, our experience is your guarantee that you’ll enjoy the experience of going to auction with Stephan Welz & Co.     


Published January 28, 2015