Guide to

Limited Editions


By  Alice
9th January 2020

Editions. What are they about, what does all the terminology mean? What’s going on!  We receive questions every day from curious customers about what an A/P is, why certain editions are worth more, do edition numbers matter and many others, so we thought we’d explain it all at once to shed light on the brilliant world of printed editions and make your art buying journey as simple and clear as possible.


Printed editions:

Lets start with the easy stuff, what types of editions we work with at Nelly Duff. Most of our editions at Nelly Duff are limited, which, as you can imagine means there is a finite number of editions that can be sold, and each one is numbered out of the full size, i.e 2 of 50 and so on. If an edition isn’t limited, it is classed as ‘Open’, which means the artwork won’t be numbered, and there is no limit to how many the artist can print.


Do edition numbers really matter?

The important thing to know about edition numbers is that the quality of the print or image doesn’t reduce the higher the numbers get. When printmaking was still in its early days and artists were using etchings to produce line heavy, detailed prints, the more a plate was used the wider the grooves got, and the quality of the printed image became less sharp. However, with contemporary techniques such as screen printing, giclee and flatbed, the editions will never vary in quality the more you print – yay! Of course, as with any artisanal hand made item, sometimes editions can vary very slightly, but it never has anything to do with the number of editions made. So, if you have a favourite number, or collect certain edition numbers then of course those numbers will be important to you, but we always advise not to get to bogged down by them, we’ve always been more into pictures than numbers anyway!


What’s the difference between a ‘standard’ and ‘hand finished’ edition?

While we like to think there’s absolutely nothing ‘standard’ about our artworks, it does help differentiate between that edition, and a sub-edition variant. For example, with a lot of our releases you will find that we will release not only the main edition but a smaller sub-edition that the artist has hand finished. This could mean they have added some gold leaf, painted over parts, or drawn in additional detailing which makes those pieces sit somewhere in between print and original, and is a great opportunity to get something a little more unique. You might also find we release ‘XL’ sub editions which are exactly what they say on the tin, a supersized version of the main one! Perfect for spaces that call for something larger than life.


What the hell is an A/P or P/P?

An A/P or Artist’s Proof is separate from the main edition of a print, but visually exactly the same. A P/P (printer’s proof) is in the same boat, and generally all the same rules apply for both. ‘Proof’s traditionally are the artist’s way of checking the process of a print before it is deemed ready to go, however in contemporary printmaking now they refer to a small separate edition from the main one that is visually the same, but only about 10% of the size of the main edition. For example, if a main edition was 150, there might be 15 A/Ps, and belong to the artist. They can choose to sell or keep that edition for themselves, however they are traditionally not released for sale until the main edition has sold out. In terms of collectability, A/Ps are usually more sought after and therefore usually more expensive than the main edition because they are rarer, although visually are exactly the same as the main edition. Got all that?