Terms & Conditions


By registering and bidding in an auction conducted by Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. (“Cowan’s”), bidders (whether present in person, by telephone, by agent, by written or telephone absentee bid instruction, or through a live internet connection) agree to be bound by these terms. These are the complete and only terms and conditions on which all property is offered for sale. Cowan’s retains the right to bar any bidder from participating in any auction and to exclude or reject any bid.

1) REGISTRATION. All bidders must register their name, permanent street address (no P.O. Boxes), and telephone number prior to the auction. Unless known to Cowan’s, all registrants are required to present two forms of identification, at least one of which must include a current photograph. Bidders may be required to present a valid Visa or MasterCard. By registering with Cowan’s or submitting an absentee bid form, an individual registrant authorizes Cowan’s to obtain a copy of his or her consumer credit report and authorizes Cowan’s, at its sole discretion, to use the information contained therein to make business decisions regarding the registrant’s participation in the bidding process.

2) ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS. Bidding on any item, whether in person, by phone, by absentee bid or via a live internet auction indicates the bidder’s agreement to be bound by these Terms and Conditions for Bidders. Any right of bidder under this agreement shall not be assignable and shall only be enforceable by the original buyer. The rights and obligations of the parties shall be governed by the laws of the state of Ohio. All bidders submit to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in Ohio.

3) TERMS OF SALE. Announcements made the day of auction take precedence over any previous communication. The auctioneer reserves the right to withdraw any lot at any time before its final sale and to reject any bid for any reason. The highest bidder for each lot acknowledged by the auctioneer shall be the “buyer”. If any dispute arises as to any bidding, or between two or more bidders, at the sole discretion of the auctioneer, the successful bidder will be determined or the disputed lot shall be put up again at the last undisputed bid and resold.

4) BUYER’S PREMIUM. (a) . (a) Buyer's Premium for "Firearms and Militaria": The Auctioneer will collect and retain from the Buyer, as additional commission, a premium equal to 15% of the Sale Price of each Lot up to and including $200,000, plus 12.5% of the amount by which the Sale Price exceeds $200,000.
(b) Buyer's Premium for "Decorative Art," "Fine Jewelry and Timepieces," "Asian Art," and "American Indian and Western Art" and any other specialized auctions. The Auctioneer will collect and retain from the Buyer, as additional commission, a premium equal to 20% of the Sale Price of each Lot up to and including $200,000, plus 15% of the amount by which the Sale Price exceeds $200,000.
(c) ​For all auctions, winning bids placed on 3rd Party internet sites will incur an additional charge.
(d) Buyer's Premium for online, timed and other third-party bidding platforms may vary.

5) ESTIMATES AND RESERVES. Presale estimates are intended to be guides and may or may not reflect the ultimate hammer price of a lot. Cowan’s retains the right to change estimates on any lot up to time of sale. A reserve is a confidential minimum price agreed upon by the seller of the lot and Cowan’s. In the case of reserved lots, the seller has authorized Cowan’s to bid on seller’s behalf until the reserve price is reached. In no case will the reserve be higher than the low presale estimate. Cowan’s standard house reserve on all property at auction is one-half of the low estimate.

6) WARRANTIES AND DISCLAIMERS. Cowan’s makes a limited warranty only to the original buyer of record concerning the authenticity of each lot for a period of 14 days after bidder’s receipt of the purchased lot. If a buyer is not satisfied that the lot purchased is genuine, the buyer may, at his or her own expense, obtain the opinion of two mutually agreed upon recognized experts in the field of the disputed lot. If these experts determine that the item is not genuine, the buyer’s sole and exclusive remedy shall be the rescission of the sale and refund of the amount paid for the item. It is specifically understood and agreed that the rescission of the sale and refund is exclusive and in lieu of any other remedy which might otherwise be available as a matter of law or in equity, and such remedy is conditioned upon the buyer returning the property in the same condition as at the time of sale. Cowan’s shall not be liable for any incidental or consequential damages. All sales are final, with no returns or refunds except as provided in this limited warranty.
Except as provided in the immediately proceeding paragraph, EVERY LOT IS SOLD “AS IS”, without any representations or warranties by Cowan’s or the seller as to merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, condition or value of the property, or the correctness or completeness of the catalogue or other description of the property, and no statement, whether written or oral, shall be deemed such a representation, warranty or assumption of liability. Cowan’s makes no representation or warranty that the buyer of manuscript material, photographs, prints or works of art will acquire any copyright or reproduction rights. Cowan’s does not guarantee the working order of any clock, watch, electronic or mechanical device. Dimensions given in the catalogue descriptions may be approximate.

“By” or “Maker/Artist” — in our opinion, the work is by the artist or maker stated
“Attributed to” — in our opinion, the work is probably, but not definitely, by the artist or maker stated
“Signed” or “Marked” — in our opinion, the signature or mark is that of the stated artist or maker
“Bearing the signature (or mark) of” — in our opinion, the signature or mark is probably, but not definitely, that of the artist or maker stated
“Circle of” — in our opinion, the work is of the period and by an artist or maker closely associated with the stated artist or maker
“School of” — in our opinion, the work is by a pupil or follower of the stated artist or maker
“Manner of” — in our opinion, the work is of the period and done in the style of the stated artist or maker
“After” — in our opinion, the work is a copy of a work by the stated artist or maker

8) INSPECTION. Except for On-Line Only Auctions, all lots are available for inspection prior to the auction. Condition reports for most items can be found online at Cowan's website, www.cowans.com, and prospective bidders are encouraged to contact Cowan's directly for additional information regarding the condition of any lot. Cowan's does not warrant the condition of any item. Buyers interested in the condition of an item are encouraged to contact Cowan's and, to the best of our ability, we will document for the prospective bidder the condition status on any lot. Condition is always a subjective evaluation and final responsibility rests with the buyer to assess the condition of any item sold by Cowan's. Absentee and telephone bidding is offered as a free service to our customers and prospective bidders. Cowan's shall not be responsible for any errors or failures in executing bids, either absentee, telephone or via the internet.

Absentee and telephone bidding is offered as a free service to our customers and prospective bidders. Cowan’s shall not be responsible for any errors or failures in executing bids, either absentee, telephone or via the internet.

9) ABSENTEE BIDDING. Absentee bids are accepted via mail, fax, email and on Cowan’s website. Such bids will be posted with the time and date of arrival, with ties being awarded to the earliest bidder. Absentee bids that are faxed or emailed to Cowan’s need to be in the office at least 2 hours before the sale begins.
An absentee bidder unknown to Cowan’s may be required to submit a bank letter of credit prior to the auction, or, using a credit card, deposit with Cowan’s a fee equaling 30% of the absentee bid.
All absentee bids are executed competitively by a member of the auction staff. The auction staff will try to purchase the lot for the lowest price possible and will bid up to the amount designated by the absentee bidder only if necessary. Cowan’s does not accept “buy bids,” or absentee bids which have no limit. In the event of a tie bid between a floor and an absentee bidder, the floor bid will be honored.

10) TELEPHONE BIDDING. Bidding live via the telephone is available on a first come, first served basis for those lots with a low estimate of $500 or greater. In order for Cowan’s to efficiently serve the needs of those who wish to bid by phone, please note the following:
• To participate in the auction by telephone, potential bidders must complete and sign the absentee bid form and check “I WISH TO BID BY TELEPHONE” for the designated lots. Potential bidders may also reserve a phone line on Cowan’s website. If faxing or emailing requests for phone bidding, they need to be in Cowan’s office 2 hours before the sale begins. Once the auction begins, requests left on Cowan’s website may not be retrieved by the staff.
• Telephone bidders are advised to indicate an “insurance bid”, which amount will become an absentee bid, pursuant to the absentee bidding process set forth above, if Cowan’s can not reach the bidder by telephone for a particular indicated lot.
• Telephone bidders must disable any caller ID or other call blocking mechanism.
• Cowan’s sells about 100 lots per hour, so telephone bidders should plan accordingly. Cowan’s will attempt to reach each telephone bidder, but Cowan’s is in no way responsible for missed calls.

11) INTERNET BIDDING. Internet bidding is available through Bidsquare.com for most auctions. There may be terms which apply to internet bids that should be reviewed online at the time of sale. Cowan’s is not responsible for any failure to execute a bid and shall have no liability to any bidder for any technical or other failure associated with an internet auction.

12) BIDDING INCREMENTS. The following increments are used at the auction. Absentee bids must fall within these increments. Cowan’s will automatically reduce any absentee bid to the closest increment if the bid falls outside the published range of increments.
For Bids falling Between Bidding Increment
$0-500 $25
$501-1,000 $50
$1,001-3,000 $100
$3,001-5,000 $250
$5,001 and up $500 or at the discretion of the auctioneer
Cowan’s reserves the right to modify increments at any time during the auction.


13) BUYER’S RESPONSIBILITY. Upon the fall of the hammer, title to the offered lot shall pass to the buyer and the buyer immediately (a) assumes full risk and responsibility for the lot, including liability for loss or damage and (b) is liable for payment of the Purchase Price (as defined below) to Cowan’s. It is the buyer’s responsibility to ask specific questions on condition related concerns prior to the auction. Cowan’s will not rescind sales with buyers that have disputes regarding firearm’s bore condition.

14) PURCHASE PRICE AND PAYMENT. The discounted “Purchase Price” for each lot shall equal the hammer price, buyer’s premium, sales tax and, if applicable, all packing, handling, insurance and shipping costs. Payment may be made with cash, personal or traveler’s check, Visa or MasterCard. Cowan’s reserves the right to hold a purchased lot until a check has cleared.

PLEASE NOTE: A surcharge of 2% will be assessed to all credit card transactions. This surcharge is not greater than our cost of acceptance.

Buyers who are present at the auction must pay the full Purchase Price at the time of the sale. Buyers who bid by telephone or who are absentee bidders will be invoiced within 5 days after the close of the auction and must pay the full Purchase Price for each purchased lot within 14 days after the date of the auction. By signing the absentee bid form or placing a bid by telephone, an absentee bidder authorizes Cowan’s to charge the Purchase Price for each lot for which such bidder is the successful bidder to the credit card number provided by telephone or on the absentee bid form, unless payment in full or alternative payment instruction is received within 14 days after the date of the auction. No property will be released by Cowan’s unless the Purchase Price has been paid in full.
Institutional billing may be available, and should be arranged prior to the auction.
Cowan’s may impose late charges of 1.5% per month (or the highest interest rate allowed) on any amount owed to Cowan’s that remains unpaid after 30 days. Buyer shall be liable for any collection costs or attorney’s fees incurred by Cowan’s to collect payment, to the extent permitted by law.

15) SALES TAX. Buyers are required to pay any applicable state and local sales tax.

16) SHIPPING. At the request of the buyer, purchased auction items usually ship within two weeks after payment has been received. Shipment is generally made via UPS or Fed-Ex Ground. Unless buyer gives special instructions, the shipping method shall be at the sole discretion of Cowan's. Cowan's is in no way responsible for the acts or omissions of independent handlers, packers or shippers of purchased items or for any loss, damage or delay from the packing or shipping of any property.

ADVICE TO INTERNATIONAL BUYERS: Jewelry can be shipped internationally but cannot be insured. Property made of or containing certain plant or animal materials, such as coral, crocodile, ivory, whalebone, baleen, tortoiseshell, etc., may require a license or certificate before exportation from the United States and importation to another country. If you are purchasing items that contain these materials, you need to check the government wildlife import requirements in the countries from which and to which the item is being shipped prior to bidding. Since the export and import licenses are independently issued by the countries of origin and destination, obtaining one does not guarantee that you can obtain the other. Purchasers are responsible for making timely payments on items won at auction, even if a license is delayed or denied.

17) SHIPPING CHARGES. Buyers are required to pay for all packing, shipping and insurance charges. Overseas duty charges are the responsibility of the successful bidder. Be aware that for larger and/or valuable items, shipping charges can be substantial.

18) REMOVAL AND STORAGE OF PROPERTY. If purchased property has not been removed, or Cowan’s has not received shipping instructions within 21 days after the auction date, a $10 per item per day storage fee may be charged to the buyer.

19) CANCELLATION OF SALE. If purchased property remains in the custody of Cowan’s for a period of 60 days following the auction, Cowan’s may, at its option, cancel the sale, retaining as liquidated damages any payments made by the buyer, or resell the property at auction or by any other commercially reasonable means, for the account and at the risk of the buyer, and in such event, buyer shall be liable for the payment of all deficiencies plus all of Cowan’s costs, including but not limited to storage and costs of both sales. This right of cancellation is in addition to any and all other remedies available to Cowan’s.

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