The pleasure of collecting prints is enormous – for every one tells a story. For a start, there are such a wide range of subjects covered – everything that people have ever done is reflected in the print.
Historical subjects Whatever theme you are interested in, there will be old prints about it. Particularly from the Georgian era, they tell us about the appearance of people, their surroundings and their scenery.
Many people collect prints to illustrate a personal interest – but why not do it the other way round? Just buy a print because you like it, then use it as your theme to explore some place or area of history.
Another aspect of prints is the huge diversity of the medium. Under our section Types of Prints, we give a short description of each of the main categories of print. Some collectors just like to specialise in one area – like mezzotint portraits – but others are actually interested in the processes, so they look for all the different types and variations.
The refinement of the black and white print is perhaps one area to tune your eye to ! In an age when colour reproduction is all around us, many people think black and white prints are really boring! Not so! Topographic prints sold in the 18C and early 19C were mostly in B&W - coloured versions were simply too expensive, and probably considered unnecessary.
When you really start to look, B&W prints can contain a wealth of wonderful, subtle detail. It is much harder to convey the effects of dimension and light and shade in B&W than in colour. Look at the way in which cross hatching is built up to convey tonal effects. The way the surface of a mezzotint is reduced to suggest texture.
You need to look carefully at prints created by the different processes, of engraving, etching, aquatint, mezzotint, lithography etc to appreciate the rich subtlety of the black and white print.
Whatever your reason for or interest in collecting prints, we are sure that you will not be disappointed!! The pages below provide some interesting background information to collecting.