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Aviation Art - Print Terminology

This section is an overview of terminology used within the limited edition marketplace.

Offset Lithography
This is the modern evolution of the traditional lithograph process of creating a print by adding a colour at a time to specially coated paper using metal printing plates. The vast majority of prints available today are produced using this process.

Pronounced gee - clay, this is a relatively new digital technique whereby a sophisticated printer sprays on small dots of ink, row by row in a single pass. Giclee is used quite widely in the USA and is becoming increasingly popular with UK publishers.

Giclee Canvas
An advantage of the Giclee process is that it can produce high quality results by printing directly onto artist canvas, giving a very realistic finish. A number of publishers are adding a small canvas edition option to their regular editions. More on Giclee printing...

Open Edition
No limit to the number of copies that may be printed, if the publisher sells out they may choose to reprint the image. They may or may not be signed by the artist, usually not.

Limited Edition
Only the number of prints as specified by the publisher on release of the edition will ever be printed, usually in a single print run. Limited editions are signed and numbered by the artist, usually in pencil as this does not fade like ink and is hard to forge through copying.

Special Edition / Restricted Edition
Terms often used where a specified number of an Open Edition has subsequently been signed by the artist and often distinguished aircrew as well.

Artists Proof
Small part of the edition, usually no more than 10%, that was traditionally retained by the artist as payment. These were the first prints run off and because of the limitations of printing technology were often better quality than those printed later in the run, and therefore could command a higher price.  With modern printing technology there is no difference in quality between the first and last print, but the practice persists and many collectors are happy to pay more for an artists proof in order to get a lower edition number.

Publishers Proof
Same general theme as an artists proof, however they are generally used by the publisher to donate to museums and other worthy institutions. Sometimes they are made available to collectors in which case they will almost certainly be a small, premium priced sub edition that has additional value through extra aircrew signatures or possibly because each print is accompanied by a copy of a companion print.

A drawing executed in pencil by the artist in the border of the print. For some collectors this is a agreeable compromise between a standard print and the expense of an artists original work.

Certificate of Authenticity
Most limited edition prints will be accompanied by a certificate from the publisher stating the number in the edition and proclaiming that no further prints will be produced.

Secondary Market
When a print sells out and demand persists a secondary market can develop and prices can rise above the issue price. Rare aircrew signatures are part of this but generally speaking the artwork has to be good, many editions signed only by the artist have risen in value. It is quite difficult to predict in advance which will appreciate, so its sound advice to just buy what you like and accept any rise in value as a bonus.

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