View Full Version : Limited vs Open Edition of fine prints

07-06-2009, 11:01 AM
Greetings to all and I hope everyone will enjoy and participate in the new forums. Thanks to all those who have worked diligently to get the forums up and running, especially Doug Otto and John Lock.

A question that I keep revisiting over and over, and one I know has no one answer, is whether to sell my prints and limited or open editions. There are legitimate reasons for doing either. And I had answers that range from it only makes sense to sell limited editions if the edition size is limited to only 10 or 12 to limited editions are just not appropriated for photography. To date, I have sold only limited editions of 200. After discussions with several photographers and the director of our local art museum as to what is appropriate for photography, I am leaning toward maintaining the limited edition concept but making 75 the edition size. The museum director said it this way: "...buyers aren't usually interested in the actual edition size, but only that there won't be an unlimited number and end up being sold at Wal-Mart as a poster." This makes sense to me.

I would be very interested in hearing any and all opinions on the subject.

bill plunkett

07-18-2009, 09:14 AM
I have always sold prints in limited editions for the reasons given to you.
I have considered making my editions only 50 and tiered.. If you visit
Elizabeth Carmel's Fine Art site www.elizabethcarmel.com, you'll see what I mean.
Have seen other photographer's do this and use it successfully. If you do this, may even want to make the limited edition even smaller.. something to think about..

Do you sign the print with the edition number or just the mat? Something I've struggled with for years..

Bill Campbell

I would be very interested in hearing any and all opinions on the subject.

bill plunkett[/QUOTE]

08-06-2009, 06:32 PM
As we know, the idea of limited editions is derived from etchings and lithographs where the plate or stone was degraded by the wear of the printing process. No such wear occurs with negatives or digital files and, as a result, the great innovators of print sales, including, among many others, Edward Weston, Alfred Steiglitz, Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson did not limit their editions.

Some years ago, galleries discovered that collectors were willing to pay more for a collectible print in a limited edition. This leads me to some questions:

Are you selling or expecting to sell through galleries? If so, what are the policies of those galleries?

Are you selling to collectors who are expecting (hoping?) that the print will increase in value or will at least maintain its value?

Is the edition size so large that it doesn’t really affect value?

Are you prepared to keep records so that you don’t exceed the edition size?

Would your buyers be annoyed if they saw the same image in an advertisement or nicely printed poster?

Just to make things more complicated, some localities have consumer protection laws that define “edition”. For example, are a 11x14 print and a 16x20 print part of the same “edition” or are they in different “editions” because the size is different. You’ll need to check in the locality where you are selling.

08-28-2009, 02:03 PM
You ask some very good questions Rich,

Although I wasn't aware that some states defined an edition for you, I can say that for my own prints, an "Edition" includes ALL sizes. So, if I have an edition of 75 prints then that means 75 in total.

Selling prints in limited editions COMPELS you to keep records so you don't exceed the edition number, if not legally then certainly morally. For myself, I keep records of where each print goes - whether it is sold or, on occasion, I will donate prints to local fund raisers. So I not only know how many have been printed, I know who has them unless they have been resold.

All that being said, you asked a couple of questions that I would like to hear some comments about. First, how large should an edition be to make it worth while. My current edition size is 200, but I am going to lower it to 75 with escalating prices at the 26 and 51 points.

The other point is "what about posters and notecards?" I personally don't consider it out of bounds to print posters and notecards of the image that are not included in the edition.

comments very welcome....


01-06-2010, 07:48 AM
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