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  1. #1
    ozphoto's Avatar
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    What is the definition of a "limited edition" print?

    Hi all,

    I've always wondered how one defines a "limited edition" when printing images.

    What factors do you use when producing a "Limited Edition" print?
    • Size?
    • Paper Type?
    • Print type?


    Could you have a "Limited Edition" of say 50 8x10" and then another 50 of 16x20"?

    Could you do an edition of 50 8x10" lith prints and then another 50 of the same image as cyanotypes?

    If you did, would they still theoretically be "Limited Editions"?

    I'm interested in everybody's thoughts and opinions on this - I'm sure it will make for some rather interesting reading.

    Thanks!

    - Nanette

  2. #2
    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    I think the definition is that you make only a few of said print. The number is probably relative to the number you normally make of prints, so it could be 1 or 10,000.

  3. #3
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    And generally limited editions are 'limited' to prints made more or less at one time, or during one span of time, or for a specific purpose. There are some photographers who, after printing a limited edition run, who will destroy the negatives. I see no purpose in this as that would be the destruction of important work. I use a stamp on the back of prints. I have a work print stamp and I have a Final Print stamp. The Work Print stamp has a place to date it and has my name on it. The Final Print stamp has my name on it, a place to sign it, date it and also a place to number it if I so wished to do, but each finished print gets a stamp.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
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  4. #4
    Lopaka's Avatar
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    Generally, in the 'art' world, a limited edition means that you will have available for sale the specified number of prints regardless of size or when they are made. The usual theory is that the closer an edition gets to being 'sold out' the higher the price. It is also permissible to have 'artists proofs' available (these are NOT work prints) over and above the limited edition prints not to exceed about 5% of the limited edition quantity. It is also proper form to disclose this. For example: a limited edition consisting of 100 prints and 5 artist proofs. The artist proofs are not sold unless the regular edition is sold out. They sell for more than the 'regular' prints. There are no hard and fast rules here, unless governed by some local law where you are. The 'proper' form is taught by art schools and the artist (photographer) is expected to be responsible to this. If you sell 'fine art' prints regularly and earn a reputation for dis-honoring it (such as selling prints of a 'sold-out' edition) the value of your work will go down and make it harder to sell.

    Bob
    "I always take a camera, That way I never have to say 'Gee, look at that - I wish I had a camera'" -Joe Clark, H.B.S.S.

  5. #5

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    A Limited Edition Print is any print that is not an Unlimited Edition Print :-)
    John Bowen

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    We actually had a photo gallery owner talk at our club last meeting.

    Her thought about limited editions was that you choose whatever number you of prints you want limit yourself to and when you finished that set you retired the negative. She also mentioned that that became a legally binding number else you would be doing false advertising and misrepresentation and that kinda stuff which might bite you. (She also said that there were some who cheated)

    As a practical matter, from her perspective between 10 and 50 in the set was generally workable depending on the market. If you did a limited set of 100 she gave the impression that there would be little or no value in the designation.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7

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    So, what happens if someone else legally gets their hands on the negative or master file, through inheritance, donation, etc.? I guess this applies more to digital.

  8. #8
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    You have to decide what you are comfortable with for limiting how many prints are made, and then stick with it. As for the question about getting a neg via inheritance, any prints made thereafter wouldn't be as valuable because they won't have been made under the direction of the artist.

    The idea of a limited edition come from printmaking... etching and the sort, because the etching plates get worn down after several passes through a press, so by nature of the medium it's limited. The idea for use in photography came about for marketing. Clearly, though, the fewer prints you make, the more valuable each print.

    Some folks will do, say 5 prints at 20"x24", 10 prints at 16"x20", 25 prints at 11"x14", but I think if you change the paper you are printing on and start a "new edition", you will devalue your prints. In other words, it's fine to have a few different editions at different sizes, but if some are on Ilford paper, and others on ADOX, then you shouldn't start another edition with a different brand of photo paper.

    Of course, there's nothing wrong with not editioning your prints. I don't think Penti Samallathi (sp??) makes limited editions.

    So, whatever you decide, you should live with, and keep good records. It's good to know where your work is, if possible!!

  9. #9

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    I'll give my .02 for what its worth. I believe every print has a size so I only print one size and have a limit of no more than a run of 50 prints per neg. Then the negative goes in the vault. Not every limited edition is done in a run of 50, some are 1/1, 1/3, 1/25 you get the point. Its a personal choice and these are mine.

  10. #10
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Ullsmith View Post
    So, what happens if someone else legally gets their hands on the negative or master file, through inheritance, donation, etc.? I guess this applies more to digital.
    Some people destroy the neg, I actually think it's a great idea, cut it up just like destroying a credit card, with digital the files can simply be deleted.

    The extra value in being limited is that no more prints will ever be made and it won't be plastered all over the internet. Once the print limit is reached the negative no longer holds any value because it "can't" ever be used again. Not even to replace a print lost to a house fire or theft or whatever else.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

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