Original Prints

What Does ‘Original Print’ Mean?

Purpose of this article.

The intention here is to attempt to clarify what is meant by ‘Original Print’.

If you have never quite understood why one kind of print should be more special than another, I hope this will go some way towards offering an explanation.


 What is an original print?
Basic Printing methods
 Sources of more information

What is an original Print?

The artist’s hand

An Original Print is an image printed by the artist or an assistant. The image on the plate is hand made by the artist. They are also known as Artists’ Prints. Prints made from blocks or screens are also included.

Limited editions

A limited edition is not necessarily an original print, although most original prints these days are limited editions!

Limited but not ‘Original’. The number of reproductions printed of artists’ paintings or photographs are limited by the publisher or the artist. The publisher undertakes to produce a pre-determined number of the reproductions, thus retaining control over the quality and distribution of the print. This sometimes results in increasing its value both at the first release and in the second collector’s market depending on demand. They may be commercially produced lithographs, screen prints and various other methods of printing. The prints may be signed by the artist, but not necessarily.

The number of prints and the size of the edition are indicated by a numerical fraction. 17/100 would tell you that that the prints are limited to 100 copies, and that this is the seventeenth of the run. In the case of an original print, the prints will often be made a few at a time until the limit is reached. Up to 10% of the number of the edition can be trial prints made before printing the edition and can be sold as Artists’ Proofs. The Plate may subsequently be modified and these may therefore be unique. This is indicated by A/P. The artist may also decide to make another edition using the same plate in a different colour-way or by altering the plate in some way. Some types of plate are more susceptible to deterioration than others, making the earlier prints of an edition more desirable in some instances.


A re-strike is a print made from an original plate. For instance, prints may be made from old or antique plates, which were never intended to be limited. The run is often limited, mainly to preserve the plate from deterioration through over-use. Plates made by Rembrandt have been used in this way.

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Sources of more information

  I will add anything I find that improves on this

  When I find something about the making of original prints


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Author- Christina Bonnett. Information in this article is given in good faith. Apologies for any glaring inaccuracies

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Outlines Gallery News

Outlines Gallery providing general information for collectors and artists.

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