Blog by Dr. Lori

3 Marks on Prints that Equal Money

by Dr. Lori Verderame
3 Marks on Prints that Equal Money

When it comes to valuable prints, most people don't know that not every mark on a print is put there by the artist. The printer is responsible for how a print comes out and is responsible for making sure that a print looks the way the artist wanted it to look. Not only does a printer have to make the print look good, but he has to make sure the print is as close to the artist's original idea as possible.

A printer also has to have a fool proof way to proof the print before he starts the fragile and costly process of printing a large number of fine art prints in a print run. Wondering how a printer does this? Well, printers ensure quality of their prints in limited-edition runs by doing a few things that are foreign to even the most skilled and seasoned collectors. Printers ensure the quality of their fine art prints by using some special marks and annotations on their prints before they print a full print run. Find these marks and you can find value and money in a print. Here are some of the little-known marks on prints that when used reference high quality standards and valuable collectibles.

1. What is a "PP" mark?

Toulouse-Lautrec work

Every heard of a PP mark? Probably not. A PP mark is a notation that can be found on some limited edition prints that means Printer's Proof. Different than an Artist's Proof, a Printer's Proof speaks to the process that goes on in the print studio or print shop. A Printer's Proof is one or a group of unnumbered prints that are proofed by the printer him or herself. The Printer's Proof retains the PP mark which says that the print in question has been approved by the printer for ink color, registration, and other aspects of the printing process. In some cases, the artist works with the printer closely and the artist gives the printer a printer's proof to assure the final print run is in keeping with the artist's desired product. Read how to identify artist's markings on prints to discover valuable prints.

2. What is a "TP" mark?

TP is another unique print notation mark. TP is reserved for something called a Trial Proof. You know, like Trial and Error. It makes sense that when printing up a large number of prints that you first do a test print or a trial print before you waste time and resources. A Trial Proof is a printed impression of an image that is made to test the development of an image and it is the proof that is made so the artist or the printer may have time to change one or more aspects of the print before printing the entire print run or many prints. There may be multiple trial proofs in a single print run. Trial Proofs are usually produced before the BAT print is made. I know, you probably don't know what a BAT print is... I am getting to it. Watch me show you how to identify markings on prints.

3. What is a "BAT" mark?

A BAT mark is another notation that is widely used in art printmaking. The BAT means that a print is ready to be pulled off of the printer's press or that a print is ready to print. The letters BAT is an annotation that means, from the French... "Bon à Tirer" or "Ready to pull". BAT is a rare note used by some professional fine art printers, but it is not widely uses. It is a notation that is used in the final stages of the printing process before the actual printing of an entire print run begins. Sometimes, this is the notation used and intended for the artist and not for the printer. BAT can be a signal to the artist and a subtle request for him or her to proof the prints just prior to printing. BAT may symbolize a final "yes" or agreement to go forward with a print run. What's more important is that there is only one BAT print for each limited-edition print run. This is the final proofed print that is reviewed by both artist and printer before the printer prints the full print run. Read about identifying valuable prints.

Dr. Lori's Expert Insights

When it comes to collecting and valuing prints, there is a lot to learn. Most people think that if a print is signed and numbered then that's enough to have a valuable print. That's not the whole story of prints, not by a long shot. Any of these other print notations will impact the value of a print significantly and these marks will also tell the story of how important a particular print is in the realm of a larger print run and how important that print is to the artist or to the printer. I always advise people that the more notations on a print, the more interesting and valuable a print is. View 3 secret codes found on prints for more tips about prints. Don't look for clean prints free of notations, but rather seek out the ones that show the hands and work of the artist and printer. Got a mark on a print that you need identified? Tell me more about it so I can evaluate it.

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