Re: Editioning and trying to make identical prints

From: Tom Ferguson ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 07/05/04-10:15:27 PM Z
Message-id: <>

I'm a little lost. I think you saying that on request you start a new
edition? So that if image "Moon and Tree" (made up name) in an edition
of 10 had been printed and sold 10 times, then on request you printed a
new edition of 1/10, 2/20, 3/10 (etc), and then a year latter someone
wanted another, larger, edition so you printed 1/20, 2/20, 3/20, (etc).
In that case (if I've understood) as a collector I would feel very
cheated. That is not dealing fairly with your buying public. There
being multiple, and nearly identical, copies of #5 in a limited
edition seems to be simply dishonest. But, I may have completely
misunderstood what you meant.

There are two "values" to a print in the collector world (like it or
not). The purely aesthetic and the monetary value. Do I enjoy the Brett
Weston under discussion, you bet. It is on my walls more often than
most of my collection. I'm a big fan of Brett Weston, have been since
high school (a LONG time ago). The "funny business" with the editioning
doesn't bother me when I look at and live with the image. I own three
of his prints, this one is my favorite. But, as a collector, I would
have felt cheated monetarily if I had bought it without knowing it was
"limited" within an "unlimited printing". That is unfair to the
collector. Believe me, the gallery didn't want to own up to this. I
knew enough about Brett and his work to "call them on it" and even then
it took a while before they were honest about it. Somewhere there are a
few upset collectors who feel cheated by this "edition", and rightly
so. If Brett had labeled the back of the mat "5/45 of this size, other
sizes unlimited" more folks would feel good about collecting
photography, and the gallery would have been forced to be more honest
as well.

I'm not trying to "pick" on Brett personally (Steve, I think, lives in
Carmel as did Brett). I use him as an example of an all too common
issue because I can speak of it personally rather than abstractly.
Brett and this gallery were FAR FAR from unique in working this way,
indeed during this discussion we've heard folks asking about the
"rightness" of multiple editions based on size, medium, or mood!

Photographic editioning is distrusted in the art collector world
because too many of us have been "less than honest". My point is that
if we increase the honesty, either by full disclosure or by running
uneditioned, it will be good for all of us.

On Monday, July 5, 2004, at 06:45 PM, steves wrote:

> As I recally, Tom, we used to make pictures as requested for sale or
> exhibition. Then, somebody would want an edition so we'd number them
> and
> print a bunch in one darkroom session (maybe more than one day, but one
> dedicated edition-session) that were expressly 'an edition' of some
> popular
> pictures, or other. Do you feel 'gyped' over this? If it was printed
> by
> Brett it's still a valuable print.
> S. Shapiro
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Tom Ferguson
> To:
> Sent: Monday, July 05, 2004 10:11 AM
> Subject: Re: Editioning and trying to make identical prints
> For a few decades I've been an active collector of photography. I've
> been a
> good customer to a number of galleries. So, let me speak from the
> collector's viewpoint (as opposed to the photographer's viewpoint).
> The whole concept of editions in photography is a mess. Partly due to
> the
> fact that it isn't a natural part of photography (negatives don't wear
> out
> like printing plates) and partly because the galleries and
> photographers
> have been plainly dishonest. There are few laws (or few laws enforced)
> in
> this area. I have a wonderful Brett Weston print of leaves in Hawaii.
> It is
> market 5/45 (I think). It is a total lie (and I knew that when I
> bought it).
> He had printed it as an unlimited edition for many years. A particular
> gallery then wanted a limited edition to raise pre publication funds
> for one
> of his books. My print is only an "edition" because it is 10x13 inches
> rather than 11x14 inches!! Yes, thats right, an edition of 45 10x13
> inch
> prints in an unlimited image :-(
> I love the image and the price was right, so I bought it. Probably a
> good
> thing, now that he is dead I can't afford his work. I gave the gallery
> a
> good lecture, but assume it went in one ear and right out the other.
> This sort of dishonesty hurts all of us. My suggestion: most of us
> have some
> sort of stamp we use on the back of our mats. Put any "funny business"
> about
> your editioning there for all to see. If 1/45 means "of this size" or
> "of
> this edition" or "negative may be used in other collages", then SAY SO
> TO
> THE BUYER and all is well. If you don't want to commit to an honest and
> stated edition, run it as an unlimited image (that didn't hurt Ansel
> Adams
> or Edward Weston).
> <SNIP>
Tom Ferguson
Received on Mon Jul 5 22:16:36 2004

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