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    Fine Vintage Art Photography

     GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED BY PHOTO COLLECTORS

    Attributed or Attrib. means research strongly suggests that a photograph was taken by the named photographer, based on the period, subject, style and on other comparable images, etc.

    "Copy photo" is a photograph made from a photo of a photo, or from a copy of an original negative. Copy photos can often be identified by the paper they are printed on and by a lack of sharpness in the image.

    "Digital image" means a photo taken with a digital camera. Such images are often manipulated in the camera, or in software, to produce the final effect sought by the photographer.  We do not distinguish between manipulated and non-manipulated digital images. We assume they are all manipulated to some degree.

    "Digital print" means an image printed with a mechanical printer, such as a color laser, or an inkjet printer. This equipment can produce extremely high-quality images, using archive-quality papers and inks. Many present-day original digital prints are contemporary "vintage" ones.  In other words, "vintage" does not mean "old", it means "at the time of origin", or "of a particular time and place".

    "Limited edition" means that one or more identical prints were produced from the same negative, usually at the same time.  A photographer contracts to  produce no more such prints.  Sometimes, the photographer retires (or destroys) the negative after the edition, sometimes s/he simply contracts to not make anymore prints in the same size and format as the limited edition.  Limited-edition prints are usually signed, dated and numbered (e.g. 1/20, meaning the first print in a limited edition of 20 prints).  A limited edition can be "vintage", or "printed later".  Serious collectors generally shun limited editions, especially those that are printed later.

    "Lithograph" "Offset printing" and other such mechanical reproduction methods are NOT photographs.  (e.g. poster, magazine pages, calendar pictures, etc.)  Under a magnifying glass, a lithograph can be distinguished by tiny dots of ink that make up the image (examine a newspaper picture, to see this clearly).

    "Original photograph" see "Photo". A photograph made from the original negative, by the original photographer, by his professional assistant, or by a lab designated and supervised by the photographer.

    "Photo" or "photograph"  means a wet-lab photographic print, on light sensitive paper, unless otherwise described.

    "Photogravure", is not the same as a mass-produced lithograph. A photogravure (which may have high collecting value) is a print from an intaglio plate prepared by photographic methods. For example, the full-page photogravures produced in the pages of Camera Work magazine are from intaglio plates.

    "Printed later" means a photograph printed some time after the photo was taken. How long after is arguable  ... and not always provable. For our purposes, any photo printed a decade after it was taken would be classified as "printed later".  So, too, would any image printed after a photographer's death.

    "Signed" photos bear the photographer's unique signature, handwritten in the photographer's identifiable hand, in pen or pencil.  The signature may be on the front or back of the print and may include a date, which might be the date on which the print was made.

    "Signed in the negative" prints are not "signed" in the unique sense described above. Instead, the photographer signed the negative, so that it would be reproduced on every print. On black-and-white- prints, such signatures are usually white.

    "Unique" image is just that "unique" one-of-a-kind, no other like it, the only copy known to exist.

    "Vintage" means a photographic print that was printed by the photographer, or by his professional assistant, or supervised lab, at or about the time the photograph was taken. 

    For our purposes, a photo is "vintage" if it was printed from the original negative, by the photographer or his professional assistant, or lab under his supervision ... and within a decade of the photo being taken. 

    However, this decade rule may not hold in every case. For example, photographic prints whose subject and date are inconsistent with photographic processes of the time cannot be called "vintage". 

    Older vintage photographs can often be dated by the types of paper and developers used to produce them. For example, an 1867 gelatin silver print by British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron cannot be "vintage" because the gelatin silver process was not introduced until 1872 and was not in common use until the turn of the century.  Thus, a true "vintage" print by Julia Margaret Cameron during the 1860s & 70s would almost certainly be an albumen print. Most early carte de visite and cabinet cards are albumen prints mounted on cardboard.

    Any photo printed after a photographer's death does NOT qualify as a vintage photograph.  It falls into the category "printed later", or "copy photo".

    For our collecting purposes, "vintage" does not mean "old". "Vintage" means "at the time or period of origin".  For example, a photograph that you take today and print next month is a "vintage" print.