How to Collect Limited Edition Prints


An excellent way,and usually affordable way,to start collecting art is through limited edition prints. The first thing that is important to know is....


What is a print? 


In the art world, a print is any artwork that has been iterated through the process of transfer. The most popular printmaking mediums are etchings, lithographies, screenprints, and woodcuts. A hand-pulled print is taken from a surface manipulated by the artist during the creation process. 


The artwork is created in multiples, but each piece is an individual work of art because the artist conceived and executed their work in this medium. The artist created the composition on metal, wood, stone or other surface. 


For example, an artist has an idea to create an edition of prints of an apple. The artist carves out all the negative space and details of their original idea on a block of wood, rolls ink on the wood, places paper over the ink, runs it through a printing press which creates the first print. In this creative process, the artist makes many choices such as the paper's color, texture, and weight and what color or colors of ink to use to bring their vision to life. The artist my go back in and continue to carve more details if they aren't happy with their test print, change colors or paper, again and again until they are satisfied with the image and ready to print an edition.


Next, the artist will then decide the maximum number of prints they will pull and that will be the limited run of that print. If the artist decides they will only pull 10 prints, that first print would be 1, also known as the first edition, of a series of 10. This is noted on the artwork as 1/10 on the front bottom left side. The title if added will be in the bottom center with the artists signature on the bottom right. Once this number is selected, no more can be created after the 10 are sold. Each print is numbered as it comes off the press.  



What if there is writing on the bottom left but it is not a number?

AP-(Artist's Proof) Originally artists pulled prints for their edition for personal use, these were created and number up to 10% of the total edition size. 

B.A.T.-(Bon a Tirer) This is considered the first perfect print that is pulled and is signed B.A.T. and then the edition and artists proofs are matched up to this print as they are pulled to make sure that each print meets these standards. The B.A.T. usually remains the property of the edition puller which can be the artist or an editioning atelier.

T/P (Trial Proof) These prints are pulled to check how the image looks to see the progress of an unfinished print. The usually can pull large sums as they show an insight into the artists process.

H/C (Hors Commerce) These prints are usually unsigned and not for sale, marked for commercial or business use.

There are additional abbreviations used by the printmaker for prints not planned for sale.  Contact the gallery, we are happy to answer any questions!


What are some reasons for different print numbers?


The strength of the material used to make the print on sometimes decides how many prints will be made.  Wood blocks can only create so many prints before the wood begins to breakdown. The artist's perceived demand of their image or even a new artist's budget for fine quality paper all might factor in to why they set a certain number of prints.


Michael Richardson

Paranoia of Food #1, printmaking

9.62x7.32 in



Why buy a low numbered edition of a print?

The first impressions of the print run are closest to the original idea of the artist which increases the price of the first prints made. A low number on limited edition prints is more valuable in the eyes of a collector, so artists are able to charge more for low quantity editions. A larger edition, such as 250 or 500, would create a higher supply of the print and lower the demand, making it less rare and less expensive. The artist wants the edition to large enough to garner sales, but small enough to driver collector interest.



What is the difference between an original print and a reproduction?


Ask any printmaker and you will get an earful about prints vs. reproductions.  The term "print" gets thrown around a lot to describe artworks that are actually only photographic reproductions. This incorrect usage of the term "print" doesn't take in to account the technical difficulty and artistic process of printmaking. 


Michael Richardson

Message from Karl, printmaking

21.75x17.50 in



 There is often a great deal of confusion about the difference. A reproduction is a copy/facsimile of an original work of art.  It could be a copy of a painting, drawing, or an original print. There is no creative process involved, only photograph being taken of an original artwork.  Giclees often fall into this category, as they are a product of a work of art being photographed and a computer then generates a copy/facsimile of the work which can be printed on canvas, paper, pillows etc.


Both reproductions and original prints can be signed and numbered by an artist, so be aware that just because something is signed and numbered that doesn't make it an original work of art. Editions are considered more valuable, as they are collected like any other artistic medium. To learn more about art, contact Pacesetter Gallery. The gallery focuses on original artworks and limited prints created by Mississippi artists.  For the full catalog of art available shop, Facebook, Instagram @pacesettergallery, or at Pacesetter Gallery, 310 Ridge Way in Flowood, MS.

Check out these creative printed card gifts by artist Kit White. Each design was created from linoleum block prints and printed in a variety of colors. Click on the artwork to purchase and learn more about mixed media artist Kit White.


Profile Notecard Set


Mushroom Notecard Set


Tulip & Fern Notecard Set

This print created by linoleum block is one of a series of prints created by Katie Allcorn documenting the unexpected, and numerous emotions felt by new mothers. The strong black and white stark image succinctly brings the viewer to contemplate the emotion Despair. Click here to see more in this series and Katie's floral print collection.


Katie Allcorn

DESPAIR, printmaking

10x8 available unframed & framed