Limited edition refers to the number of prints that are available for that particular artwork. The number of prints in a limited edition is determined by the artist, printer and when applicable, the publisher. Limited edition prints that are printed by hand and that are thus original artworks are usually fairly small in quantity. In South Africa most limited editions consist of less than a hundred prints. The print number of a limited edition is usually written in pencil in the bottom left hand corner of the print.
In a limited edition print you will get the following: numbered prints, artists proofs, workshop proofs and printers proofs. There will also be a Bon a tirer print, which is the approval to print. The printer usually keeps the B. A. T. The tradition of limited edition prints is to have the numbered prints, for example one to forty and then to have the various proofs editioned in addition to the numbered ones. This means that the artist will have a copy of the print and that the workshop and printer will also have a collection of the limited edition work that they have done. Collectors will often approach the printer directly to try to buy their copy of the limited edition once the numbered prints are sold out.
The limited nature of the limited edition is ensured by the original plate, block or stone being defaced or destroyed to ensure that no “second" editions can be printed. It is important to check whether the studio and printer that printed a print you may be interested in, have integrity prior to investing in a limited edition print. All prints produced at The Artists Press have documentation sheets that anyone may look at which detail the exact amount of prints. To find out more about limited edition prints go to www.artprintsa.com
Tamar Mason, artist and writer focussing on original prints and limited editions from Southern Africa