How to tell if your print is an original
Original copperplate Engraving by Johan De Bry from 1612
First, you have to understand the process of producing a print
The artist first does his work as an original piece of art.. a drawing made on a voyage or as a part of a study being undertaken on commission for a person of some wealth or for their own, identified need.
This artist or their commissioner then employs the services of an engraver, also called a sculpsit. These engravers were often very talented, and could make the original work of some renouned man on a voyage or on a commission look really amazing
The sculpsit does his work on a copper plate, so the “original” is a copper plate and that’s rarely ever for sale.
To produce the image, the plate is first hand-inked.
The paper is then laid down on top and the two pass together through the printing press, under tremendous pressure. The pressure transfers the image to the paper. Since the copper plate has a thickness, it “dents” the paper around the edge of the image. This “dent” is called a plate impression. You can see it and feel it around the edge of the plate.
#1. A real copperplate engraving has a plate impression.
Since the process is not photographic and there is no printing press, there are no dots in the image. If you use a magnifying glass to look at a photograph in a newspaper, you can see the entire image is made up of dots. Use a magnifying glass with an original etching and there are no dots.
#2. An authentic etching does not have any dots in the image.
Reprints of original art are given back to the artist to hand-sign each one. Antique prints are signed on the engraving before printing and can be found on the bottom under the print on either the left or right hand side. Details on the engraver are often found here also.
#3. Authentic etchings are hand-signed by the artist, usually in pencil.
In the case of Louis Icart, a raised seal called a blindstamp, was created in mid-1926, and is usually found in the lower left corner, just below the image. Most Icart images produced after this time have the blindstamp, but don’t use this information as a crutch. There are some fake etchings that have fake blindstamps. And conversely, there are many authentic Icart etchings that do not have a blindstamp. Supposedly the etchings without blindstamps were not for export from France, but personally I’ve found too many instances where this rule doesn’t seem to follow.
Information has been taken from an article that I enjoyed from Philip Chasen of Philip Chasen Antiques
Original lithograph with later hand colouring by John Gould
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