Art Terms Used On Our Site

Types of editions:

Open Edition

An open edition reproduction print can be produced in any quantity.  Open editions normally cost less than limited editions and are much less likely to increase in value. The term open edition can be interchangeable with “poster”.  There are, however, vintage reproductions that are “out of print” that have a collector’s market and can be quite valuable.

Signed Only Edition

Signed Only editions are open editions (not limited) that have been hand signed by the artist.

Limited Edition (Signed and Numbered)

A limited edition is a series of identical prints that are limited to a one-time printing of a certain number of pieces. The artist determines the size of the edition, and usually signs and numbers each individual piece. The numbering lets you know that this is a limited-edition reproduction that has been hand signed and sequentially numbered by the artist, usually in one of the lower corners of the work. The numbering takes the form of a fraction, with the top number indicating the number of the image, and the bottom number signifying the total number of images in the edition

Types of substrates:

Acid Free (Archival) Paper (or hand made papers / substrates)

Acid-free papers or canvas that have been treated to neutralize their natural acidity (ph neutral) in order to protect the fine art or photographic prints from discoloration and deterioration. 

Other Materials

Artists use a variety of materials as a “canvas” for their end product.  It is best to chose editions or originals created with archival materials to ensure longevity and to protect your investment.

Types of printing (methods)


Original Lithograph (example = Stone Lithograph)

A lithograph is created using a printing technique based on the principle that oil and water do not mix. Using oil-based ink or a grease crayon, an image is drawn on a flat stone or metal plate. Water is applied to the surface and is repelled by the areas where oil-based images have been drawn. The entire surface is then coated with an oil-based ink that adheres only to the areas drawn in oil, ink or crayon. The image is then printed on paper. Lithography became a popular printing technique because thousands of exact replicas could be made that were like drawings on paper, without degradation of the image.

Original Lithograph (Hand Coloured / Colored)

Color lithography is essentially the same process as basic lithography. In this process, however, the application of each color is printed separately through careful alignment or registration. This process is typically done by computer analysis, and is most frequently used in the production of posters and open edition prints.

Offset Lithograph

Offset lithography is an industrialized version of the same printing technique as lithography. By using modern printing presses, high-quality reproductions are produced faster and in higher volumes than with manually-produced lithographs.  An Offset lithograph is the least manually intensive reproduction technique, and in turn, is not as expensive as a serigraph or giclee. Although images can have a high resolution, and excellent appearance, they will not have the same degree of resolution or color density as a serigraph or giclee. 

Giclee (pronounced “zhee-clay”)

Giclee printmaking offers one of the highest degrees of accuracy and richness of color available in any reproductions technique. Giclee printmaking provides a luminosity and brilliance that represents the artist's original work better than any reproduction technique available today. Giclee  (pronounced "zhee-clay") is a French word meaning "a spraying of ink. With the advent of Giclee, the art of reproducing fine art has become even more precise. Giclee have the highest apparent resolution available today -- as high as 1,800 dots per inch. In addition, since no screens are used, the prints have a higher apparent resolution than lithographs and a color range that exceeds that of serigraphy. Displaying a full color spectrum, Giclee prints capture every nuance of an original and have gained wide acceptance from artists and galleries throughout the world.  The patented printing technology utilizes microscopically fine droplets of ink to form the image. A print can consist of nearly 20 billion ink droplets. The microscopic droplets of ink vary in sizes (approximately the size of a red blood cell) and density. This unique patented feature produces a near continuous tone image, smoother gradation between tones, and a more finely differentiated color palette. 

Serigraph (Silkscreen)

A serigraph is created when paint is 'pushed' through a silkscreen onto paper or canvas. A different screen is used for each color in the print, and results in a print with great color density and many qualities of the original piece in terms of color saturation. This process also adds some texture to the final product. 

Etching (or Engraving)

Etchings and engravings are both methods of cutting lines into a hard surface, such as metal. The primary difference between them is that engraving is a physical process and etching is a chemical process.  An engraver uses sharp tools to cut lines directly into a surface, while an etcher burns lines into a surface with acid.

Artist’s Editions

Artist Proof (A/P.) or Epreuve d’artiste (E.A.)

A small group of prints set aside from an edition for an artist's or printer's use. Typically some of the first prints pulled from a limited edition of prints are marked as an A.P. and [sometimes] left unnumbered. Artist's proofs generally draw a higher price than other impressions.  In the early days of printmaking, printer’s plates would wear down over time. Because of this, the first prints off the printing press were the highest quality and were designated “artist’s proofs”. The artist’s proofs were considered to be the best prints within the edition and often the artist kept them. Technology has changed quite a bit since the early days of printmaking. Today, all prints within a run of off- set lithographic prints or Giclee prints will be identical in quality. However, the tradition of having a special edition within the edition has stuck around.  Today the value of owning an artist’s proof does not relate to quality, it relates to the importance of owning a rare portion of an edition. Most offset lithographic editions and Giclee editions include less than 20 percent artist’s proofs. Because the art world loves rarity and since there are fewer artist’s proofs than regular prints, they are preferred by many collectors.  Artist’s proofs are clearly notated on the reproduction. If there were 50 artist’s proofs, they will likely be numbered 1/50 A.P. to 50/50 A.P. Most often they will cost between 20% and 50% more than a signed and numbered print from the same edition.

Hors Commerce (H.C.)

Hors Commerce prints, or HC’s as they are called in the industry, are very similar to Artist Proofs except they are only available through the artist directly. The artist receives these as a gift for allowing the publisher to print their images. The term “Hors Commerce” means “Out of Trade” in English. Of all the “special prints”, the HC are the most valuable, since they are more rare.

Printer’s Proof (P.P.)

A printer’s proof is basically the same as an artist’s proof except that there are even fewer of them produced. They provide an even more exclusive opportunity for a collector to own something very unique, as they are given to the printer or publisher by the artist.  Traditionally, printer’s proof edition sizes are very small - usually 20 prints or fewer. They are usually numbered in the same format as the artist’s proof, (example 1/20 PP). Printer’s proofs usually sell for the same price as artist’s proofs or perhaps slightly more.

Estate Stamped

Limited Editions are often created posthumously (after the artist is deceased) with authorization of the Artist’s Estate.  To ensure authenticity, each print is usually signed and numbered in pencil by the publisher and embossed with the estate and chromist's seals, along with the legend on the reverse usually with text such as "Approved by the heirs of Romare Bearden".


A remarque is a small original work of art hand-drawn or painted directly on the print by the artist.

Certificate of Authenticity

A Certificate of Authenticity is a signed document proving the authenticity of the work and containing details about the artwork for the collector’s reference.  Every artwork we offer is sold with its certificate of authenticity.

Collector’s Price

Also known as retail price. This is the regular asking price of the artwork if sold in a gallery.