THE LETTERING ON PRINTS
One of the most useful things about prints is the amount of text information on them. Normally along the bottom of a print, there is a wealth of detail.
For a start, there is usually a title, and often a subtitle. Then, the name of the print maker and artist is often recorded. In addition, the print seller and date is often shown.
There can be other pieces of information. For example, a Roman numeral in the top right or left corner will often indicate that the print was one of a series, possibly published in parts which would be bound together into a book. A title at the top in reverse may indicate that the print was a vue d’optique, for looking at through an optical viewer or zograscope.
Collector’s marks in the form of small stamps are often found on prints. While not original to the print, these are of great interest in tracing the history of the print.
This wealth of information gives an extra dimension to print collecting.
Abbreviations found before or after the printmaker or artist’s name can be puzzling. Generally, the printmaker’s name will be listed in the bottom left hand corner, the artist (if any) on the bottom right.
The names are often accompanied by letters such as the following:
Fecit, fect, fec - usually indicates the printmaker, and may also suggest that the printmaker produced the original artwork as well.
Engraved, eng, engd, grave - indicates the name of the printmaker/engraver, although also found on etchings and other print types.
Sculp, Sculpt, sc - another term for the printmaker, originally meant ‘carved’, but found on etching and everything else!
Aquaforti, aq, aquaf – indicates that the work was etched by the printmaker, as it means ‘acid’, quite reliable.
Delin, del, delt - usually indicates the name of the artist whose original painting or drawing was copied.
Invenit, inv, invt - again, term for the artist.
Pinxit, pinx – similar term for the artist whose original painting or drawing was used.
The publishers name if shown usually appears in the bottom centre, sometimes with ‘Excudit’ .
The example above tells us that this print was by Francis Place of York, and that he both drew the drawing and prepared the print.
On the illustrations in our prints for sale section, we have included the printed information.