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What is the number at the bottom of my print?

We recently received a question from a new art buyer who was curious about the number at the bottom of her print. She wanted to know what it meant and if it was important when considering buying a piece. I thought for a minute about this question and realized that it was a really good one. This also serves as our first post in what will hopefully become a helpful section on our blog dedicated to all of your art-related questions.

Print by Matilda Alexander

Anyway, getting back to the question at hand, that number tells you what print you have out of how many prints were made from the same plate, block, etc. So if your print says 20/134 - that means that you have the 20th edition made out of 134 total prints. Prints that have these numbers on the bottom are called numbered prints and and artist uses numbered prints when they are part of a limited edition.

Print by Marina Mangubi

Why do those numbers matter?

Well, if you think about that second number - let’s take the print above which says "10/16" - that means there are only 16 impressions of this print. The lower the second number, the more valuable the print - simply because there are fewer out there.

Sometimes you may see “A/P”, “A.P.”, or A/P with a number. This stands for “Artist’s Proof” which is an impression that is not a part of the regular numbered edition and is typically reserved for the artist. Prints that have this marking on them are considered even more valuable because they are typically better quality and are technically a part of the artist’s personal collection.

Whether or not you care about exactly how valuable your print is, it’s cool to know more about your art! In a way, that little handwritten number connects you to the maker and that’s really special.

👇 We want to hear from you! 👇

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