How to Use Proxibid to Bid Online

To bid live on our online auctions, you’ll use service called Proxibid.

It costs nothing to have a bidder ID on Proxibid until you actually commit to a purchase by placing a bid on a live auction. However, you will be required to provide a valid credit card, which will be used for any future winning bids.

Getting Started with Proxibid

When you arrive at the auction listings prior to live auction time, you may click on the “Start Bidding” button for the desired auction session. This will take you to the catalog for browsing and prebidding.


If the auction session is already live and in progress, this button changes to “Enter Live Auction” with a status bar showing how far along the auction is. Clicking on this button will take you into the live auction screen.


In either case, you will be in “watching” mode, which does not require a Proxibid user ID. You will be prompted to login or register with Proxibid if you want to place a bid.

Proxibid Prebid Auction Catalog

Here’s an example of a Back to the Past auction catalog in prebid mode.


Walking through the options on this catalog page:

  1. Description and Sharing section.  A quick description of the auction, as well as our company information and links to share the auction or a reminder so you don’t forget about the session.
  2. Information & Special Terms.  This is the informational section about the auction. It includes a summary of the session, details about shipping, a printable version of the catalog and other associated auction information. Always be sure to read this section for Proxibid auctions, so you can bid with confidence and not experience any surprises!
  3. Catalog navigation tools.  Use these to search and move around the catalog, or change your catalog display options.
  4. Lot listing.  The most important part of the catalog, the lots themselves! Each lot will include at least one photo, a lot description, and the current bidding amount.
  5. Place a bid.  If you’re not logged in or registered with Proxibid, you’ll be taken through the login process.

Auction prebids, watched lots and winning bids are all tracked in the “My Proxibid” link at the top of the screen.

Proxibid Live Auction Bidder Panel

Here’s the bidder panel for an auction already in progress.


Walking through the options on this page:

1. Lot #, Description and the Live Audio/Video button

The first two are self explanatory, but the audio/video feed is often overlooked! If you click here (and assuming your computer has the ability to play video and sound), you’ll be able to view and listen to the live auction in progress. One word of warning, however, is that this video stream is subject to Internet lag and will often be several seconds out of sync with the bidding controls below. Do *not* rely on live video to bid. The bidding controls at the bottom are the accurate representation of the current state of the bidding.

2. Photograph of the current lot in the ring

3. Bidding Controls

This area will display the current bid amount and a button showcasing what bid you will make if you push it. As a warning that the hammer is about to come down, this area also includes a “once-twice-sold” display. Due to Internet lag affecting the distance between your mouse click and our location in Michigan, we strongly advise not waiting until the last second to bid, or you might miss your opportunity.

Waiting for “twice” to light up before bidding is the leading cause for us missing a bid.

Note that there is no benefit for “sniping” or bidding at the absolute last moment. Unlike eBay, where the timer is fixed and you might be able to score the top bid just as the time runs out, on Proxibid we will always extend the time for bidding when we get a bid. This gives all other interested bidders a chance to respond. After every apparently final bid we will progress through once/twice/sold until the hammer comes down. All sniping will do is raise the chances we miss your bid and sell the lot before your bid can be acknowledged!

4. Catalog Controls

If “Sync Catalog” is set to on, the screen will move the catalog along as the auction progresses. This is what you want if you are simply viewing the auction as it goes. If you are scanning further down the list and prebidding on lots while the auction is in progress, you will want to turn this option off, or you’ll snap back to the current lot whenever the next lot goes into the ring. There is also a search box here, for easy scanning of things that interest you in the catalog.

5. Lot Catalog

If “Sync Catalog” is on, the top lot will always be the one that’s in the ring, with the next three lots displayed below it.

6. Message Center

The auction operator will relay important information about the auction and the current lot in this area. If you have a question or comment, you may enter it here and the operator will get your message. Be aware, however, that the operator almost always has his hands full with keeping the Proxibidding synchronized with what the auctioneer is doing in the room, so a response may not be immediate.

Proxibid Auction FAQ

Q: During a live auction, I had the top bid, but you took it away?

A: Although Proxibid’s online auction process might appear to operate in a similar fashion to bidding on something like eBay (which is significantly more familiar to most people), it really is quite different in execution. All of Proxibid’s mechanics boil down to one thing: During a live auction, there is a person in the room who is raising their hand to bid on your behalf; and just as in any live auction situation where several hands go up, the auctioneer has the final call on what bid to accept.

Therefore, even though you may have hit bid and the Proxibid operator immediately put up his hand on your behalf, the auctioneer may have already called another bidder. In this case, the operator would swap the winning bid from Proxi to onsite and we’d continue on.

Bottom line is that the online bidding process does its best to approximate being in the room (which it does very well in the great majority of cases), but the final arbiter of who holds the current bid is the auctioneer.

Q: I had a $10.00 prebid in place, but when I checked later I saw the lot was passed. Why didn’t I win it?

A: Prebidding may not take into account the consigner’s wishes for minimum bids on some lots. Although Back to the Past Collectibles, as a rule, avoids reserves on auctions, we do allow consigners to have some moderate minimum bids, which don’t always translate to the prebid level on Proxibid.

Q: I was in a bidding war against another Proxibidder, but the panel showed “onsite” during the run-up. Why didn’t you recognize my bids?

A: Although we appreciate every bid, the key bid is always the top one. If many people are active in a bidding drive, the auctioneer may opt to focus on the two most active people until we hit a lull in the bidding, and then make sure everybody else has the chance to respond. If we’re on the way to a $500 hammer down, then it is generally irrelevant where the $65 bid came from along the way.

If a bidding war breaks out both in the room and online, we will generally let both of them take their course and then see which side emerged at the higher lot value.

Q: I had a maximum prebid of $10 in place, and I see the lot sold at $10 but I did not win the lot! Shouldn’t I have the priority on this? What gives?

A: Just remember that on Proxibid, your prebids are your instructions to the person in the room who is bidding on your behalf in a dynamic live auction setting with many different bidders, several of which could throw their hand up at once (as opposed to something like eBay, where the online visible bid is the single high bid). It is the auctioneer’s choice which bid he’s going to take at any given moment, out of all the bids offered.

Our Proxibid operator keeps the in-house bids synchronized with the Proxibid platform and will throw their hand up *only* if the panel tells them to.

So in this case if you had the top active bid at $7.50, then it’s open to someone else to bid the next amount. Someone in the room bid $10.00 and then at that point the Proxibid operator would get no indication to respond.

If the bids had been one increment different (room at $7.50, you at $10.00) then it would have worked out the other way on your behalf. Unless, of course, they decided to bid again.

Bottom line is that we do not know your max bid, all we can do is bid on your behalf when the Proxibid panel tells us to.

Q: I’m sick of you taking my bids away!

A: We are, too. Proxibid’s system, unfortunately, is based around letting bidders do what they want and not having much control over it from our end. All we can do is let the bidding get to a point where it slows down and then correct the panel to reflect the situation in the room. We think this often results in a negative impression (i.e., you think you are winning, but it gets taken away) and could be improved by giving the operator a little more control (i.e., you offer a bid, but it doesn’t show accepted until the operator gets the nod from the auctioneer and confirms the bid). However, this is a much longer conversation for another day as to how to improve Proxibid.

Q: What do you charge for shipping?

A: This can vary by auction session and will always be addressed in the information section at the top of the auction catalog. Most of the time we go with a minimum shipping charge of $6.00 inside the US, further calculated to the best exact rates of UPS and USPS. International shipping will be calculated to exact rates – but in either case we will *not* ship via uninsured and untrackable methods. You want your goods to arrive quickly and intact, and so do we. We’re sorry for any potentially excessive rates, but that cost is not under our control.

Q: I’m bidding on Proxibid, but I live nearby. Can I pick up in person at the shop?

A: Absolutely, just let us know either during the auction or via email that you’ll want local pick up. We’ll have your invoice sorted out by the next day, and when you receive the email confirmation of your winning lots, they’ll be waiting for you in the showroom.

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