What are editions?

An edition is the total number of impressions made from a single plate or screen. Usually the edition is made by the artist, sometimes in conjunction with a printer or master printmaker.

Limited edition prints are traditionally signed and numbered in pencil with the edition number on the bottom left, the title in the middle and signature on the right. It is generally accepted that the printmaker can mark A/P (Artists Proof) on up to ten per cent of the edition – so an edition of 100 would have numbers 1/100 – 100/100 and an extra ten marked A/P.

When an artist’s heirs give permission for the printing of an edition or second edition, it is known as a posthumous edition. Posthumous editions should be limited and documented just as in standard printing practice, though not necessarily hand-numbered. Editions that were pencil-signed in their original state frequently bear stamped signatures authorized by the artist’s heirs or the publisher in their posthumous state.

A second edition is a later printing made from the original matrix after an edition of declared number has already been printed. Second editions are usually only made with explicit authorisation from the artist and should be annotated as such. A photographically produced replica of the original print, whether printed in a limited edition or not, is not a second edition; it is a reproduction.