A list of useful terms used in the production and collecting of fine art prints

Acetate cellulose

A transparent synthetic material available either in sheets or rolls. Used for relatively short-term protection of prints from surface soiling.


A chemical compound contained in materials such as paper made from wood pulp.

Acid-neutralising paper

Paper which contains a neutraliser intended to absorb any acidity that may appear in the environment of a stored work of art on paper.


The trade name and watermark of a modern French paper manufacturer. Widely used for modern and contemporary prints.

Artist’s proofs

Prints outside the regular edition which artists may dispose of as they choose.


The seepage of ink beyond the line or shape on the plate. May be caused by too much oil in the ink or too much pressure or both.


A colophon embossed or impressed without ink onto the paper used for a print, usually to identify the publisher or printer.


A warp, bulge, or depression in paper.

Chain lines

The widely spaced watermark lines that go with the grain of laid paper. They result from the chain wires that hold the laid wires together.


The symbol, colophon, or special mark embossed on paper in order to identify an artist, collector, printer, or workshop.


A pucker, bulge, or ripple in paper caused by uneven tension during its manufacture or by atmospheric changes during its use.

Collector’s mark

An identifying stamped mark placed on a print by a collector. Such marks may be helpful in tracing the provenance of a print, although in the past collector’s marks were frequently stamped on prints in locations more conspicuous than desirable.
Ownership marks such as library stamps can also deface colour prints.

Print with library mark

Colour print

A print of more than one colour. Colour prints can be made from or multiple plates, stones, blocks, or screens.

Colour separations

Separate proofs, on individual sheets, of each colour that will later be combined on one sheet to form the colour print.


Preservation of an object in its current state; the prevention of further loss, injury, or decay.


A method of creating areas of shading. Sets of parallel lines cross at angles to each other, and depending on how wide the lines are and how close together they are, an effect of shadow can be achieved.


The breakdown of paper, which may be caused by its original properties and materials, the environment in which it has been placed, or the ageing process.


The total number of prints made by an artist (with or without the assistance of a printer) of a specific image. Most modern prints are issued in one limited edition only. However, some have gone into 6, 7, and 8 editions. A re-strike is often called a late edition.


Etching, drypoint, xylography are all varieties of the engraving technique in which a sharp tool is used to incise lines into a metal or wood plate.


An intaglio process in which a metal plate is covered with an acid-resistant material before being drawn on.

Foxed, foxing

Spots of various sizes and intensities, usually brownish, that disfigure paper. May be caused by dampness, fungus, paper impurities, or any combination of these.

Foxing and water marks on a print


Grams per square meter, a measurement of paper density. Love Thy Wall prints use dense 320gsm paper.


A photographic method of producing reproductions. The dots inherent in this method can usually be seen with the aid of a magnifying glass.

Handmade paper

Paper made entirely by manual techniques. Usually considered most desirable for prints.


A single print made from a plate – stone, wood, metal, or other material.


Printing inks are made in a variety of ways for different processes. Thus lithography ink differs from etching ink, which in turn is different from the ink used for woodcuts. Inks used in these printing processes are generally made of oil and pigment, but in some instances inks have a water base rather than an oil base.

Light stain

Discolouration on paper caused by overexposure to any light source containing ultra-violet rays – especially sunlight and fluorescent light.

Limited edition

A set number of multiple originals, the number publicly acknowledged, of an original print. Usually the plate, stone, or screen is mutilated or destroyed after the determined number of impressions has been made.


The unused portion of paper that borders the printed area of a print. The blank paper outside the plate marks.

Paper loss

Absence of an area of original paper.


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