Sam Francis

Untitled, 1984

106.7 X 73 inch


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7 Steps To Hang Any Artwork To Your Wall

A Guide to Print Editions Acronyms


What significance do the numbers and letters on a print have?  In addition, how do they affect the value of a print? When it comes to the realm of image, acronyms are all over the place. Here's an explanation of the elusive relationships between prints, editions, acronyms, and their value.

Limited and open edition prints
The quantity of prints made from one plate is known as an "edition." Print editions come in two varieties: limited and open. It means that only a limited number of prints or impressions are generated, making the image more costly, rare, and collectible.

A limited-edition print's edition size and number are visible (meaning at what point in the edition run you struck it). For example, a 1/20 indicates that this print was the first in a series of 20.

On the other hand, open editions have no limit on the number of prints that can be created, and as a result, they are less valuable. Open-edition works are not always unlimited in volume because they are part of a more extensive collection. In some cases, a limited number of impressions may be allowed to be made in an open edition.


Signing and numbering the print
You may be confident in the quality of each print when printmaker signs and numbers the series; they are ensuring that each image is identical to the others and that there are only so many of each track. Before the printmaker may sign and number the edition, they must look over it and destroy any defective prints.


If the print happens to have a title, it is customary to place it in a central location, with a signature to either side of the impression and the edition number to the left. The same standard can be used on the back of the print (aka verso),  when the pattern extends to the edge of a piece of paper. To prevent fraud, this is mostly done with a sharp pencil. A pencil signature cannot be printed as quickly as an ink signature.


Most often, the edition number is placed on the left-hand side of the impression. Two numbers are separated by a slash and appear to be fractions. There are ten prints in the series, and the lower number is the edition size or how many images are in the series. So, for example, if you had 25 identical prints ready to be numbered, you would number them 1/25, 2/25, etc.

Artist Proof vs. numbered edition print
Which option is the best, and is there a difference? When are considering acquiring a piece of art, you may want to know the difference between an artist proof print and a number edition print. It is a terrific question that will help you learn a lot about art, which is essential when you're about to make a significant investment.


Because of technology improvements, painters could broaden their market reach by generating affordable prints that were similar in quality to their original works. It allowed the artist to fix any color or quality errors that may have arisen throughout the production process. The artists would make several adjustments, and those "artist proofs," or A.P.s, would be separated from the limited-edition print run and not be included in its number. Even so, these prints were excellent. Artists discovered a significant demand for artist proofs since clients would seek the limited-edition patterns they would acquire directly from the artist.


It's important to remember that today's Artist Proof prints are identical to the standard edition in quality, font, and material. While there isn’t a quality difference between the A.P. and non-AP prints, this is the only thing that sets them apart. It all boils down to personal preference and what you think looks best in your collection. As a result, some people believe that A.P. prints will hold their value or perhaps go up in value over time. An exertion of art is only valuable what someone is prepared to pay for it at the time.

The number of impressions has little bearing on the market value when it is put up for sale again. Ultimately, each print is (nearly) similar.

A glossary of acronyms
It isn't enough to number an edition; printmakers also employ a variety of other markers to differentiate individual prints.

To save a few prints from an edition for personal use, or for a dealer, the artist can do so as an A/P, P/A, or E.A. (Artist Proof, Prueba de Artista, or Epreuve artist). They're designated A/P or E.A. but they're still up to the same standard.  In general, only up to 10% of the issue should comprise this type of print.

It is common for the printmaker to maintain only one of these proofs, P/P, P.I. (Printer's Proof, Prueba de Impressor, or Epreuve d'imprimeur).

B.A.T - It’s known as "Bon à Tirer" or "Ready to Print" if a print is marked with this mark (French for "good to pull"), which indicates that this is the first print in the edition that fulfills the artist's or printmaker's requirements. Marks made by a studio are typically theirs to keep.

A "T/P" (Trial Proof) is a print made while the image is being adjusted or developed. In the art market, even though they are unfinished prints, their value can be significantly higher than that of a finished piece because they reveal the artist's creative process.

S/P (State Proof) - This mark identifies the print as a working proof and indicates that it was further developed after the edition was completed. As printmakers experiment with acid exposure to the plate, certain etchings will be given this mark, creating darker lines or variances in design.

Prints referred to as H.C. (Hors Commerce) - French for "For Commercial Use" - are often signed by the artist and used to promote the edition, but they are not meant to be sold.

It is common for artists and printmakers to change the original plate, block or stone after the edition has been printed not to be reprinted again. If the original has been altered, a line is placed across the matrix, and then a print is taken as proof that no more prints can be created from it.

One-of-a-kind prints, such as those made using the serigraphic method or flat plates of nonporous material, are referred to as M.P. or M.T. (Monoprint or Monotype) in the art world.

UNIQUE PRINT, UNIQUE STATE, V/E (Variable Edition) You can't get the same print again if it's marked with these symbols. These patterns can be referred to as 1/1, including monoprints and monotypes (edition of 1).

An artist can add characteristics to a print after the edition has been created, such as a hand-painted print or a hand-modified multiple (H.M.P., H.P.M., or H.M.M.). Serigraph Prints are the most commonplace to find these.

"Edition Varied" is a mark used to identify editions printed in different ink colors or on other papers. Some painters and printmakers prefer to use Roman numbers rather than Arabic numerals to number these prints. There are many examples such as this.

It is by no means the final word on the subject. In nations with varying standards, there are additional marks and labels.

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