Edition


Edition

In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same point in time. This is the meaning covered by this article. This may be a "limited edition", with a fixed number of impressions produced on the understanding that no further impressions (copies) will be produced later, or an "open edition" limited only by the number that can be sold or produced before the plate wears. Most modern artists produce only limited editions, normally signed by the artist in pencil, and numbered as say 67/100 to show the unique number of that impression and the total edition size.

Original or reproduction?

An important and often confused distinction is that between editions of original prints, produced in the same medium as the artist worked (eg etching, or lithography), and reproduction prints (or paintings), which are photographic reproductions of the original work, essentially in the same category as a picture in a book or magazine, though better printed and on better paper. These may be marketed as "limited editions" with investment potential (which is rarely realized), and even signed and numbered by the artist. Some knowledge is often required to tell the difference, and the marketing by the art trade can be deceptive. See special edition for coverage of this issue in various fields.

Development of the concept

One of the main reasons for the development of printmaking was the desire of artists to make more money from their work by selling multiple copies; printmaking satisfies this motive. The production of multiple copies also tends to reduce production costs and market price when compared to a single or unique image. Until the nineteenth century, in the period of the Old master print the concept of an edition did not really apply to prints, unlike books. Prints were often run off as demand allowed, and often worn-out plates were reworked by the original artist or another, to produce a new state. The art market attempts to distinguish between "lifetime impressions" and "late impressions", which were produced after the death of the artist. This can be done to some extent by the study of the paper involved, and its watermark, and the condition of the plate as revealed by the printed image. But it remains a difficult area.

The aquatints of Goya, which are done in a technique that wears out quickly on the plate, were the first important prints to be published initially in limited editions, which however were not signed or numbered. In fact the plates survived, and since Goya's death several further editions have been published, showing a progressive and drastic decline in quality of the image, despite some rework. Because of this and other cases, "posthumous editions" produced after the death of an artist, and obviously not signed by him, are usually far less sought after. The plates of later prints are often "cancelled" by defacing the image, with a couple of impressions of the cancelled plate taken to document this. This is now expected by collectors and investors, who want the prints they buy to retain their value.

Modern practice

Prints by artists today may potentially retain their financial value as art ("i.e.", as an appreciating investment) because they are created by an artistic process rather than by a strictly mechanical one, and may become scarce because the number of multiples is limited. In Rembrandt's time, the limit on the size of an edition was practical: a plate degrades through use, putting an upper limit on the number of images to be struck. Plates can be reworked and restored to some degree, but it is generally not possible to create more than a thousand prints from any process except lithography or woodcut. A few hundred is a more practical upper limit, and even that allows for significant variation in the quality of the image. In drypoint, ten or twenty may be the maximum number of top-quality impressions possible.

Numbering

Because of the variation in quality, lower-numbered prints in an edition are sometimes favored as superior, especially with older works where the image was struck until the plate wore out. However the numbering of impressions in fact may well not equate at all to the sequence in which they were printed, and may often be the reverse of it.

In later times, printmakers recognized the value of limiting the size of an edition and explicitly numbering the prints ("e.g.", a print numbered 15/30 is the fifteenth print in an edition of 30). The printing of editions with tight controls on the process to limit or eliminate variation in quality has become the norm In monotyping, a technique where only two impressions at most can be taken, prints may be numbered 1/1, or marked "unique". Artists usually print an edition much smaller than the plate allows, for marketing reasons and to keep the edition comfortably within the un-degraded lifespan of the plate; or specific steps may be taken to strengthen the plate, such as electroplating intaglio images, which uses an electric process to put a very thin coat of a stronger metal onto a plate of a weaker metal.

The conventions for numbering prints are well-established, but there are other marks to indicate that the print exists outside of an edition. Artist's proofs are marked "A.P." or "P/A"; monoprints and uniquely hand-altered prints are marked "unique"; prints that are gifted to someone, or are for some reason unsuitable for sale, are marked "H.C." or "H/C", meaning "hors de commerce"--not for sale. The printer is also often allowed to take some impressions for themselves, these are marked with "PP". Finally, a master image may be printed, against which the members of the edition are compared for quality; these are signed-off as "bon à tirer", or "BAT" ("good to print" in French). Sometimes the number of the main, public, edition can be rather misleading - representing 50% or less of the total number of good impressions taken.

ee also

*Special edition
*Print run
*Historical editions (music)

External links

* [http://www.printdealers.com/learn.cfm What is a print? from the International Fine Art Printers Association]


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Synonyms:
(of a literary work), / , (of copies)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • ÉDITION — Quand il s’agit d’exprimer l’idée d’édition, les langues hésitent entre deux racines qui sont représentées en français respectivement par le verbe «publier» et le verbe «éditer». L’un vient du latin publicare , qui signifie «mettre à la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • edition — e‧di‧tion [ɪˈdɪʆn] noun [countable] 1. a copy of a book that is printed at one particular time. Second, third etc editions of a book may contain changes to the previous book: • These chapters did not appear in the first edition. • A new edition… …   Financial and business terms

  • édition — ÉDITION. s. f. Publication d un livre. La première, la seconde édition d un ouvrage. [b]f♛/b] Il veut dire aussi Impression. Ce livre est de l édition de Manuce. Belle édition. Mauvaise édition. Édition correcte, ou fautive. [b]f♛/b] On dit,… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Edition 8 — ist ein Schweizer Kleinverlag, der sich unter anderem auf Schweizer und lateinamerikanische Belletristik sowie kritische Sachbücher spezialisiert hat. Die ISBN Verlagsnummer des Verlages ist 85990. Geschichte und Programm Der Verlag wurde 1998… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • edition — [i dish′ən] n. [ME edicion < L editio, a bringing forth, publishing < edere: see EDITOR] 1. the size, style, or form in which a book is published [a pocket edition] 2. a) the total number of copies of a book or the like printed from the… …   English World dictionary

  • Edition — E*di tion, n. [L. editio, fr. edere to publish; cf. F. [ e]dition. See {Edit}.] 1. A literary work edited and published, as by a certain editor or in a certain manner; as, a good edition of Chaucer; Chalmers edition of Shakespeare. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Edition 52 — Rechtsform GbR Gründung 1997 Sitz Wuppertal (Deutschland) Leitung Uwe Garske, Thomas Schützinger Produkte …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Edition — Sf Ausgabe, Herausgabe von Schriften erw. fach. (16. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. ēditio ( ōnis), einer Ableitung von l. ēdere (ēditum) herausgeben , das dann auch als edieren entlehnt wird. Nomen agentis: Editor. Über das Englische auch… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • edition — early 15c., version, translation, a form of a literary work; 1550s, act of publishing, from Fr. édition or directly from L. editionem (nom. editio) a bringing forth, producing, also a statement, account, from pp. stem of edere bring forth,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • edition — EDITION. s. f. Publication d un Livre. La premiere, la seconde Edition. Il veut dire aussi, Impression. Ce Livre est de l Edition de Griphe. Il sign. & comprend aussi les personnes qui ont travaillé sur l Autheur. De l Edition de Moreau, de Henry …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Editĭon — (v. lat. Editio), 1) überhaupt Herausgabe, Mittheilung von Sachen, welche man besitzt. 2) (E. actiōnis od. E. formŭlae), die in feierlichen W orten abgefaßte Instruction, welche der Prätor nach kürzlicher Prüfung einer Rechtssache (in jure) dem… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon


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