Are Artist Proofs More Valuable

Are artist proofs more valuable than other works of art in the same edition is a common question. The short answer to this question is: no.

I do recognize that many artists, galleries and publishers will charge more for an artist proof than what they will for art that is numbered within the same edition. Their reasoning is that the artist proofs are pulled in the beginning of an edition when the matrix (metal plate, lithographic stone, etc) has not had the opportunity to wear down or deteriorate.

This argument might have merit if the artist allows inferior quality pieces to be pressed after the artist proofs. Also, not all artists press their artist proofs at the beginning of the edition. Some will do them at the end and others will pull artist proofs throughout the edition.

I have also met one artist that signed everything in his edition as an artist proof so that all his collectors could feel like they received the first ones. This is not a practice that is endorsed within the art world and fortunately, a very rare occurrence.

Most artist will keep their editions small enough that the wear of the plate will not affect the quality of the art. Variations in the edition usually occur because of the differences in the way that the matrix is inked each time.

Forgers will often number pieces as artist proofs or hors commerce. It is easier for them since they do not need to worry about edition sizes or duplicate numbering problems. Because of this, most collectors would rather have a numbered work of art by Picasso, Chagall and any of the other major 20th Century artists. This is not advocating that artist proofs are forgeries, just that the collector needs to be extra diligent.

Values can differ within an edition but are usually caused by the condition of the art and not where it falls within the edition number.

Written by Melanie Smith

Seaside Art Gallery on Ruby Lane

Melanie is the co-owner of Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC which specializes in original fine art. The gallery was founded in 1961 by her parents and she has grown up in the world of art. She has organized numerous art shows, acted as an art judge and is an accredited fine art and animation art appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers.