Does Limiting the Number of Print Editions Create Value?

Recently, a customer asked us whether the limit to the number of prints was to increase their value. She also asked if she should use the term "print" for reproductions.

In the 1990s, many artists argued about whether the term "print", should be used when it was a mechanically produced; which is almost always a Offset or a Giclee  process. And while historically prints were hand made by the artist and or master printer with the artist; as in a etchings or serigraphs. Many Giclees and Offsets were sold to uninformed collectors who didn't understand the difference between an Original print and a Reproduction print, some dealers just referred to all of  them, as prints. 
Many artist and dealers began calling Giclee or Offsets Prints without explaining the different mediums used to produce the work. So for the collectors and people in search of art for their walls there was a lack of important information they did not have to make a educated decision in purchasing art.

Limited Edition reproductions were all the rage in the  1990s. Some publishing companies made the mistake of making their editions too large, as high as in the thousands, and they also were expensive.

These reproductions were marketed with the idea that they'd increase in value because they were limited in number, and would later sell at a higher price on the secondary market and there is some truth to this because if the number produced is very small it does add inherit value simply because there is fewer of them. This truly becomes important if the print is a original print created by the artist hand or complete involvement.

 See here by artist Kabir (Portuguese)    Original Limited Edition Embossed Etching on Heavy Rag Paper   Hand printed in the 80s                                               

                                                                                          "Music and Life ll" available 

Some buyers, thinking they were going to make a fortune, bought a large portion of the reproduction print editions and waited for their "investment" to grow; however, their investment failed to grow, and eventually publishers had trouble selling new reproductions.

The market for reproductions and prints, limited or otherwise, almost came to a halt in the early 2000s. There's more to the history of lithographs and giclees, but that's another subject for another article. 

Some popular limited prints have sold out within a month . If the artist had not committed to a limited addition, the prints would still be selling today. So many popular artist are no longer limiting the number of reproduction prints.
Limiting a popular reproduction is in some ways like limiting a best selling book. If 1000 people or more want to buy a giclee, then why would an artist want to limit it?  Limiting the print won't raise the value of a reproduction in most cases' again it does add value. There does seem to be a rush to collect the lower numbered prints which is a good idea if it is an original print.
Real prints, Stone Lithography, Etchings and Serigraphs , are limited because the stone or copper plate or screen wears down with the printing process, but with a digital printer, nothing wears out.


Most clients who buy "prints" are interested in an affordable version of the original. Original works of art and hand made prints are investment worthy because they are truly original and many times they're sold on the secondary market.

 So when selling reproductions, they should listed as a giclee or offset print but, many print buyers don't care about that. People who do care about whether a work of art will become a investment should educate themselves about exactly what they are purchasing.  

See here by artist Neil Adamson Offset reproduction Limited edition print on paper                                                                            "Southern Hammock" 17x32 available   

Many artist have chosen to hand paint on each reproduction so that each one is unique, and will help increase the value of the work. We have signed and unsigned reproductions, many original prints and lots of paintings at Seven North Art and will gladly guide you in the best choice for you as a collector or simply the right art for your home.

Hope you found this informative please contact us at anytime...

See you next time, Jim Cournoyer


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