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June 15, 2007

MAO FAN Mail.. Printers Proofs... ??? Good, Bad, or Ugly?

We received the following MAO Blogger Fan mail this morning .. so thought we'd share with the class...


To My Beloved MAO:
      I’ve been following your blog for a while now. Congrats on the great job...I wish some other collectors would share as much as MAO.

     The reason I’m emailing is primarily to ask you a collecting-related question (I can’t consider myself quite the collector yet, but I’d like to try).  I was at the AAF yesterday and saw a decent print at what I think is a decent price. However, the print is a printer’s proof and I was wondering if you can tell me what the implications of that might be. I imagine it may not be as valuable as the numbered series? I like the print, which I think is the more important consideration, but was wondering if you might have an opinion on PP’s.

Thanks much.

Best Regards,

President.. The MAO Fan Club


Hi Mr. President...
      Thanks for reading the MAO blog, and the Email.. I didn't get to go to Art Basel with all the real important collectors either was at the AAF last night too. Nice Fair..too crowded.. I remember when these Collectors Previews events were actually comfortable exclusive!  And since when did $10,000 per artwork become affordable? Geeeze.. My times have changed. Look out below!! Bubble.. what Bubble ?
      I've asked that question before as well.. I believe most Printers Proof are generally 100% authorized prints by the artist, and of equal value to a print from the regular edition.
      Typically many photographers give (or trade) a print to their printing lab as a form of payment for their services. So they tend to be just as valuable. Some collectors only want works from the regular edition, but some collectors also think since the actual Printer is getting it.. they may take extra care to insure the PP is of the best quality. So there's no clear difference in value. Just make sure you love the image, and it's signed by the artist.
     I hope this helps.
And good luck on the collecting, it's very addicting!!
Forever yours,



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went to the aaf preview on wednesday night. show should be called the decorative art fair. or, perhaps, the flowers, birds, nudes, and colorful shapes fair. icky poo!

Personally I would rather have something from the regular edition. But would totally consider a PP if it was all that was available or the price was good.

And beware of those people that might try to make you believe that a PP or AP is more valuable because they are "rarer" than the "regular" edition. That is complete bunk. These are the same people who try and make you think that a "low number" print is worth more. Also complete bunk. A print might be worth more if it's a unique test print, might.

pp, is technically the master print that all other prints are matched to. usually a photographer doesn't print all the prints in an edition at once, but makes one master print, and then every print after that is matched to that print as they are sold. I saw a benefit show once with a gregory crewdson printer proof editioned pp1/2. Why whould he need two printer proofs? That seems really sketchy to me, especially knowing he does print the entire edition at once and doesn't really have a use for a pp. Has anyone else encountered the multiple printer proof?

Just a personal opinion, I think now these days, 2 PP are just 2 more to sell. People who print digital-C has 2 PP.

"People who print digital-C has 2 PP"

some might, but many don't even have 1 pp. worth asking when you buy a print.

Printers proofs are usually considered to be of greater value because they are a sort of mini edition separate from the main edition. I have always found that collectors will go for the printers proofs as first choice.


"Printers proofs are usually considered to be of greater value because they are a sort of mini edition separate from the main edition."

As I said before I'd beware of these people. This is opinion and some people may buy this but it is not an accepted truth or fact at all. The "mini edition" thought is wrong in my opinion as these prints are all from the same edition. There is and should be no difference in the image from the regular numbered edition and the printers proofs. And the more PPs there are theoretically the less valuable the edition is worth. I would much rather have a print from the regular edition as would many other collectors. At best I'd pay the same price for a PP as the regular edition. But never more. Of course this is my opinon as well. So make up your own mind if you're willing to pay more or less or not at all.

Also I have seen prints with more than 1 PP. Some editions have many PPs.

APs (Artist Proofs) were supposed to be reserved for museum shows and personal projects of the artist and not to be sold. Too often the number of APs approaches the edition size and are just additional sales. Keep that in mind when evaluating any purchase. Unsigned (and some fake signature) PPs are just nonsense and an excuse to steal from the artist in many, if not most, cases. Printers have take to printing up "extra" proofs, which they then sell. Real printers proofs were made to make color corrections (which could be any number), so they are never as good as the final product and would normally be destroyed except in this overblown market we are currently experiencing. Any artist, including Crewdson if he really is doing this, ought to be hung to dry.

I have seen a signed printers proof sold recently by the printer for significantly less than the true artist is asking for the same signed and numbered prints. Who knows what the artist is actually selling his prints for, but it sure has me curious as to the value difference since I posses some of the same signed and numbered prints myself.

In all above discussions, two terms were discussed - Artists Proof and Printers Proof. As an example I use inkjet printing, including original art or art reproduction work. Artists Proof relates to an original art (photography or graphics), where artist produces proofs before he/she is satisfied with the work. Those proofs should be destroyed as they reduce the value of an edition. However, if there is one or two proofs kept by the artist it is O.K., over the long time they may have a significant value if they demonstrate development/creation of artist's work. Purpose of Printers Proof is very different. Its purpose is to verify the quality of print and to keep a template by which print production is controlled for quality and uniformity. Artist signes, numbers and dates the proof so it is identified for its purpose. Printer usually keeps one proof, artist may keep one also for reference purposes. Printers Proof is usually retained by the printer. In principle however it should be exactly the same print as any item in limited edition. Simple fact however is, that it is a special item, it has different marking than limited edition, it has artists signature and perhaps few comments. This makes it special and more valuble.

I have a question, hope someone can answer it. I picked up a print by an artist named Nita Engle, a signed and numbered publisher's proof. I got it because I liked it and intend to keep it, but when I looked it up on line there were greatly varying values assigned to similar things. How do I determing what it's worth - or if it's worth anything at all?

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