What are Limited Edition Prints?
Limited editions originated from the days of screen printing and plate pressings. However, these days original artwork can be scanned or photographed and printed using a professional inkjet printer with long lasting pigment inks to produce an image identical to the original. The process is referred to as giclee printing. The first print is as good as the last. The quality of paper or canvas used in a giclee print is very important.
In general, the rules around limited editions are clear. The artist decides how big an edition will be, and commits to no more being issued. It is considered unethical to say the least to breach this undertaking, and certainly damaging to the artist's reputation. The buyer should get a signed and dated Certificate of Authenticity confirming this and other details. Each print is signed and numbered, e.g. 1/100, 2/100 etc.
Smaller editions are usually more expensive than larger ones, as you'd expect. An edition of, say, 20 will be more exclusive that one of 500. There are also Open Editions, meaning that there can be an infinite number of prints in any format dependent on demand. These of course are generally the least expensive.
Now, the next bit can be less straightforward. You may find that within the above, each artist makes individual choices. For instance, it's possible to issue, say, a limited edition of 100 prints of an artwork in a particular size, but then to issue another limited edition of the same image in another format or size without breaching the rules, as long as they have specified and are clear upfront that the commitment to each limited edition applies only to that particular format or size in the Certificate of Authenticity.
So, in short, it's always worth clarifying with the artist before purchase.
My policy is this:
All illustration artworks shown are available as limited edition only.
In the case of paintings, the original artwork will often have been sold.
The number of each edition given is inclusive of all sizes and formats.
Nice and simple.