Glossary

TYPE

Vintage print

A photograph printed within a few years from when the negative was made. A vintage photograph does not necessarily have to be very old. 

Later print

If the original negatives are old and the print is not produced within a few years from when the negative is made, nor printed very recently, these prints are called later prints.

Modern print

Very recently printed photographs made from the negative or digital file of a contemporary photographer. 

Reproduction

A copy of the original photograph, made from either the negative or the print. Photographs in books are reproductions and have no value. However, books themselves (especially hardcover first editions) or exhibition posters (affiche d’exposition) with reproduced photographs can be interesting items for collectors. 

TECHNIQUE 

Gelatin silver print

A black and white print made on paper coated with silver salts. Most black and white photographs are silver prints. Period: 1871 to the present. 

Chromogenic print

Also called ‘dye coupler prints’. This term covers the majority of colour prints made today. Part of the material that forms the colour dyes in the development is included in the emulsion during manufacture. During development, the silver image is bleached out, leaving only the dye image. These prints are commonly referred to as a ‘Type C Print’ if made from a negative and a ‘Type R Print’ if made from a transparency. Period: 1936 to the present. 

Cibachrome

A process in which a photographic print is produced directly from a colour transparency. Noted for their rich colours, brilliant clarity and unprecedented archival quality. Also called ‘Ilfochrome’. Period: 1960’s - 2011.

Dye transfer

A method of making colour prints or transparencies that gives the maximum control of colour, balance and contrast. Dye transfer is one of the most permanent colour processes. Period: 1928 - 1994.

Giclée print

A method used to produce high quality digital fine art prints on ink-jet printers. In the 1980s, the publishing industry started working with large-format high-resolution prepress proofing printers, called IRIS printers. Later, this term has come to be associated with prints using fade-resistant pigment based inks, printed on archival paper and primarily produced by Epson. Period: 1991 to the present.

Historical processes

This term covers at least 35 distinct processes, most having to do with processing the final print for unconventional effect. Period: 1822 to the present. 

Negative

Developed film used in analogue cameras. Negative images are the master images from which all prints are made. Period: 1835 to the present.

Platinum/palladium

A print in which the final image is formed in platinum or palladium. Both of these processes are extremely permanent and have delicate rich tones and ranges of greys that are unattainable in silver prints. These processes are enjoying a revival today with a number of contemporary photographers coating their own paper. Period: 1830 to the present. 

Photogravure

An intaglio printing process in which the image has been placed on the plate by photographic means using carbon tissues. Period: 1830 to the present.

Polaroid

Instant positive film (which instantly produces a print) using diffusion transfer to move the dyes from the negative to the positive via a reagent. The process varies according to the film type. The Polaroid Corporation invented this technique but ceased production in 2008. Between 1976 and 1986 Kodak produced similar instant film products. Period: 1948 - 2008. Nowadays, Fuji and the Impossible Project are the only manufacturers of instant film. 

Transparency

A reversal film is a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base. The film is processed to produce transparencies or diapositives instead of negatives and prints. Period: 1907 to the present.

EDITION 

Limited edition

A set of prints, numbered and signed by the photographer. Two numbers are used: the first indicating the prints’ place in the order of all the prints in the edition, the second number indicating the total number of prints in the edition. Sometimes, a small number of ‘artists proofs’ may be produced as well, most commonly signed and described as ‘AP’. The edition number is typed on adhesive stickers, hand written, or stamped on the front (recto) or back (verso) of the print or the matting.

No edition

Limiting the number of prints started as a marketing incentive in the 1980s to create scarcity and thereby higher prices. More common are photographs of an open edition. That does not imply that they were printed in large quantities. In reality, open editions exist mostly in numbers of less than 200, and only a few photographs have reached 700 in a photographer’s lifetime. Yet each and every one of the prints has a kind of uniqueness, since they are almost always printed one or two at a time over a period of many years. Also consider that no photographer produced them without reason. Prints had to be ordered and paid for by clients (newspapers, magazines) or collectors. When a print is not made in a limited edition, it does not mean that there are many of them available on the market. Most prints by respected photographers are in private or public collections. 

SIGNATURE 

Hand signed

On photographs, the signature establishes that the work is genuine and created by the photographer. 

Facsimile signature

A term used when a photographer’s signature is not handwritten by himself, but reproduced by printing methods.

Unsigned

A term used when a print bears no signature. Unsigned prints can still be genuine.

With dedication

An inscription or announcement affixed to a print or photograph album, dedicating it to a person. 

STAMP 

Photographer’s stamp

Many photographers mark their work with a stamp, most commonly placed on the reverse. The main reasons are to be credited as the creator of the photograph and to show that the print is copyright protected. 

Agency stamp

Prints of photographers who are represented by an agency often bear a stamp with copyright information or instructions for use. 

Publisher’s stamp

For archival or promotional reasons, publishers of books, magazines or newspapers often stamp prints on the reverse. 

OTHER TERMINOLOGY 

Albumen print

A photographic printing process using egg whites in the emulsion. Period: 1850 to the present. 

Anonymous

A term used when the creator of a photograph is unknown (to us). 

Bromoil

A highly involved process that can generate one print or, in a transfer variation, many copies. Its chief quality is a delicate painterly/etcherly look. Lithographic ink is applied with a special brush to a gelatinized paper surface that selectively resists or attracts the ink. Period: 1904 to the present.

Cyanotype and Vandyke

These methods, along with others, made from metals combined with their ferric salts (platinum, palladium, gold, copper, etc.) can produce infinite monochrome variations with the capacity to convey special moods. Period: 1842 to the present.

Daguerreotype

An early photographic process where the impression made on a light-sensitive silver-coated metal plate is developed by mercury vapour. Each is an original since no duplication process exists. Period: 1839 to the present.

Fibre-based paper

Fibre-based paper is normal photographic paper: a paper base without a plastic coating. Normally there is a layer of baryta (barium sulphate), which is an insoluble white coating between the paper and the gelatine emulsion that adds brightness and prevents the image sinking into the paper. Fibre-based papers can have bromide or chloro-bromide emulsions and are available as multi-grade or single-grade papers. Many photographers use fibre-based paper for high quality exhibition prints.

Gum bichromate

An early process in which exquisite coloured prints are made by printing on paper coated with layer(s) of sensitized and pigmented gum arabic. Period: 1839 to the present.

Mount

A photograph can be mounted to present the image and protect it from creasing and bending. Traditionally, photos have been mounted on an acid-free board. Modern prints are more often mounted on Sintra board, a more stable material not as susceptible to heat and humidity. Synonyms for mount are ‘mat’ and ‘passepartout’.

Orotone

An image printed on glass then backed in gold; also called gold-tone or curt-tone. It is often found in ornate, moulded or gilded frames. Period: 1890 - now.

Press print

Gelatin silver prints used by photographers and their agencies to be published in newspapers and magazines. The common size of these prints is circa 8 x 10 inch (20 x 25 cm). Most of these prints bear copyright stamps on verso and some additional information, such as captions. 

Print

The term ‘print’ is an abbreviation of ‘photographic print’. Synonyms are ‘photo’ and ‘photograph’.

Recto

The front of a print.

Resin-based paper

A plastic-based paper type, also known as RC paper. It is a common paper type for printing images as it gives greater gloss potential than fibre-based papers.

Verso

The back of a print.

CONDITION 

Many lots are of a certain age and type, which means that they are not in perfect condition. References in the lot descriptions as to damage or restoration are for guidance only. Descriptions may make reference to particular imperfections of a lot, but bidders should note that lots might have other faults not expressly referred to in the catalogue. All dimensions are approximate. Illustrations are for identification purposes only and cannot be used as precise indications of size or to convey full information as to the actual condition of lots.

Fine (10)

The print has no flaws and is in a 'like new' condition.

Near fine (9)

The print may have minor imperfections, like glew residue or a less smooth paper surface due to removing tape on the backside, all not affecting the image.

Very good (8)

The print may show little sign of age, like slight yellowing, light surface bubbling, subtle bends or small creases.

Good (7)

The print may show slight folds, slight scratches, small age spots and minor emulsion or surface damages, affecting the matting or the image, but still normal for it's age.

Fair (6)

The print may show moderate folds, moderate scratches, cut-offs, age spots and emulsion or surface damages, affecting the matting or the image, but still normal for it's age.

Poor (<5)

The print may show significant damages like tears, cut-offs, wholes or or heavy coloration, all affecting the image.