Artist signed limited edition prints

Words by:
William Gregory MRICS, Golding Young & Mawer Auctioneers & Valuers
Featured in:
February 2016

A challenging moment at our regular appraisal days can often be informing a client that a picture, which they think to be an original and worth thousands, is in fact a print and worth moderate decorative auction value.
It can be hard to distinguish to the untrained eye. The art print market is complicated with numerous forms and techniques; some require not just artistic ability but great technical ability from the artist, whilst others are simple mass produced colour reproductions which always tend to be of more affordable value.

These reproduction prints are often enhanced by being produced in limited edition form, usually of up to 850 copies, each numbered and then signed by the artist in the lower margin.

Although the purchaser is still buying a reproduction print the fact there are limited copies available and the artist has signed them gives them a greater appeal to collectors.

Art is subjective and personal. Current tastes and fashions do impact on demand. A few artists have been commanding higher prices recently for their limited edition artist signed prints at auction. Foremost is Laurence Stephen Lowry who produced a number of signed limited edition works in the 1960s and ’70s. An edition of ‘Going to the Match’ recently fetched £22,000 at auction; this might look like a bargain compared to the £1.9 million the original sold for in 1999.

Prints by other popular artists such as David Shepherd and William Russell Flint continue to attract attention at auction, although prices tend to be in the hundreds. John Piper is another artist whose print works recently came up for auction at our Lincoln Auction Rooms. These were screen prints from the artist and this was reflected in the prices achieved, with a top piece of £2,300 for the edition titled ‘Harlaxton through the Garden Gate’.

Whilst not quite the one-off original, the artist signed print market offers an inexpensive way of owning and enjoying art.

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