Although purchasing prints can be a fun endeavor, it can also be a tricky one, if you don’t fully understand “art jargon.” Here are some helpful terms to keep in mind and questions to ask when you are in the market for an edition print.

There are a few questions that you should always ask before purchasing a print:

  1. Always ask if there has been any restoration, which includes paper loss, ink loss, tears, etc.
  2. In the event that the piece is framed, one should always find out if it has museum type (acid free) framing and mounting.
  3. You should always find out what the edition size is. Most authentic prints have controlled numbers of prints from the publisher.

Another item of information to determine is whether the print is part of the regular, numbered edition or some kind of proof. A proof is a test of the printing process before and/or outside the finalized edition. Below is a list of abbreviations that refer to different kinds of proofs.

  • AP – Artist Proof (These are customarily given to the artist as part of his compensation by the publisher.)
  • BAT – Bon a tirer (good to print – This is the print that has been a approved for the edition by the artist.)
  • CTP – Color Trial Proof
  • TP – Trial Proof (Both CTP’s and TP’s are unique color variations of the finalized image.)
  • EP – Exhibition Proofs (Normally used for museum or art fare exhibitions.)
  • HC – Hors de Commerce (not for sale – Prints which are often given to collaborators or the publisher.)
  • PP – Printers Proof (Are customarily given to the printer as partial compensation for the edition.)
  • RTP – Right to print (Is the proof selected by the artist and publisher to be the image for the edition.)

TP’s and CTP’s are generally higher priced than the regular edition, due to their uniqueness and scarcity. These can be valued in the marketplace for as much as 100% over the value of a regular edition print.

Although this is a lot of information to digest, we hope it provides you with the knowledge that you’ll need to purchase your next print with confidence, and get the most “bang” for your buck!

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