FIRST, it needs to be noted that fine art prints, no matter the process, are of little investment value without the artist’s signature affixed. That signature, whether on the image, below, or on the reverse side, is the artist’s acknowledgment that the reproduction accurately represents the best possible recreation of the original image. All the prints in the William Welch Collection are personally inspected and signed by William Welch.
SECOND, a numbered and signed “limited edition” print signifies a higher investment value. Obviously, the lower the total edition, the greater the potential value. As is the case with all William Welch Limited Edition Prints, the printing and the longevity of the paper used should be of the highest standards. It should have a “rag” content of at least 25% to prevent yellowing or discoloration as it ages. It should be noted, too, that numbered editions need acid-free mattings and backings when framed to avoid “foxing” – brown spots or streak, caused by the acids in cellulose paperboards that over time can attack good rag paper.
THIRD, the numbered limited editions of the most value are those with a lower total in the edition. Unless the artist achieves great renown, it is unlikely that a numbered signed print of an edition of more than 1000 will be of much future worth. The average “run” for most artists in print is 500. Certainly, 300 or below would be the most desirable purchase, although it should be a less important consideration than the quality and appeal of the work in general. William Welch maintains strictest control over his numbered editions; supervising the printing at the press, correcting proofs, receiving, numbering and cataloguing all buyers. He oversees the destruction of all materials and excess proofs and prints associated with each edition, including plates, negatives and computer files. This is an absolute assurance of the integrity of your purchase from the William Welch Collection.
FOURTH, and finally, when an artist adds details or color or any hand-work to each print in the limited series, this greatly enhances potential value. It is then considered to be just a step below an original work – highly regarded in the art resale market. This process, referred to as “re-marquing or re-marking”, is done on the actual printed piece by the artist with paints or other art materials. Re-marquing is of much greater value than embellishing or adding sketches, vignettes or small color drawings in the margins of the print. These may be attractive additions, however they negate the value of the main numbered edition. Unfortunately, these devices of “marginal decoration” are no substitute for re-marqued, and may, indeed, be a method used by artists or publishers to wrongfully extend the edition with a “new embellished” series with separate numbering, or, more often, to increase the price of remaining prints in the run, thus boosting sales and perceived value.
We hope that this information may help you in looking at fine art prints as images that give both pleasure and possible investment opportunities. Thank You.
Researched and written for the William Welch Collection by Historic Streets of America Publishing Co., 50 Main Street, PO. Box 2847 Nantucket, MA 02554 (800-900-9779 or 508-228-0687).