tom half of the fraction indicates the total
number of prints made. The top half of the
fraction indicates which number this print
occupied in sequence in the total run. So,
for example, 6/100 would indicate the
sixth print made in a 100-print edition.
When examining an original print,
look to the bottom of the work to find
this fraction. These edition numbers can
sometimes be hidden under the frame, so
it may be necessary to remove the frame
if the numbers are not visible.
Edition numbers are not an indication
of absolute authenticity, but are an important first step. After obtaining the edition
number, appraisers (and adjusters) should
look to catalogs to confirm the numbers
given indeed match the known number.
For example, if a known edition has 200
prints within it, it should ring alarm bells
if the edition number on the print states it
as a number different than 200.
Prints usually have the artist’s signature on them — either done by hand after
the print is done, in the lithographic plate
itself, or in some cases, both. If the print
in question has both, it’s a good sign the
print is authentic. If the print only has
the plate signature, it’s most likely a reproduction print.
Other important things to look for
when working with prints are the plate impressions and marks. Authentic prints will
have a discernable plate mark where the
stone pressed against the paper and this indentation should be visible around the image. Sometimes these plate marks are concealed by a frame so it may be necessary to
remove the frame for proper examination.
One company recently appraised a piece
believed to be a print by Picasso valued at
$12,000. Using these authentication methods it was determined the piece was actually a photographic print worth no more
than $100. It just goes to show that when
evaluating fine art, confirming authenticity is the master piece of the work.
Having started her career at the Cleveland
Museum of Art, Erin Hollenbank, ASA,
is an accredited appraiser specializing
in European and American Fine Art for
Enservio ( www.enservio.com), a leading
provider of contents claim software,
payments solutions, inventory and
valuation services for property insurers.
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