How to Buy a Limited Edition Modern Print on eBay

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How to Buy a Limited Edition Modern Print on eBay

eBay is great place to buy pieces of artwork such as limited edition modern prints. Whether the buyer is an art collector, casual enthusiast or just wishes to bring some life to their home with a limited edition modern print, eBay is a fantastic resource for buying prints and artwork.

Should the buyer be looking to purchase an etching or engraving, a monoprint or monotype, a drypoint or digital print, eBay stocks a large variety of limited edition modern prints to suit any and every kind of art collector. Art collecting has witnessed a steady increase in popularity over the last couple of decades and this popularity has led to a wealth of modern art prints available to purchase on the internet.

The purpose of this guide is to inform the reader and potential buyer about limited edition modern prints and advise them about how to purchase from eBay.


Printmaking is simply the process of making art by printing (usually on paper). The process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece known as a print or sometimes as an impression. Each print produced is considered an ‘original’ and not a ‘copy’.

This is because each print varies due to fundamental variables in the printmaking process and because the imagery of a print is not just a reproduction of another piece of artwork, it is often a unique image designed from the beginning to be expressed in a certain printmaking technique. There are many printmaking techniques which create many print styles including:

  • Woodcut
  • Aquatint
  • Mezzotint
  • Drypoint
  • Lithography
  • Screen-printing
  • Engraving
  • Etching
  • Monotype
  • Monoprint
  • Digital (Pigment & dye-based inks, Giclee)
  • Foil Imaging

Prints are made by transferring ink from a matrix or through a prepared screen (silk or synthetic fabric) to a sheet of paper or other material. Matrices in printmaking are usually: metal plates (copper or zinc), polymer plates for engraving or etching (stone, aluminium or polymer for lithography), blocks of wood for woodcuts and engravings and linoleum for linocuts.

Limited Edition Prints

In comparison to paintings, print artists usually produce a ‘run’ of many prints from the original media. These runs are either open-ended or limited to a certain number of prints. Multiple impressions printed using the same matrix form an edition. Print artists from the late 19th century, have signed (and sometimes numbered) individual impressions from an edition to form what is known as a limited edition. Limited edition pieces are collectibles and the smaller the number of runs and the lower the number of the piece in the run, the more valuable that print will be.

Which Type of Print?

  • As previously discussed above, there are many different types of prints to choose from. All prints can be devised into one of four categories relating to their production method: relief, intaglio, stencil and planographic.
  • Relief prints (such as woodcuts and engravings) as the name suggests are created using a raised surface where the artist cuts off unwanted material.
  • Intaglio prints are printed onto paper from a recessed design and include etchings, aquatints, mezzotints and engravings.
  • Stencil prints involve ink or paint being pressed through a prepared screen like screen-print.
  • The final type is planographic and is where an image is printed from a flat surface or matrix such as lithographs.
  • The most popular modern prints of each type are engravings (relief prints), etchings (intaglio), stencils (screen-prints) and lithographs (planographic).


How about purchasing a limited edition modern engraved print? These print types originate from German goldsmiths from the 1430s. Gravers as this print type is often referred to as, come in a variety of shapes and sizes that offer different line types.

To make this print type, the engraved plate is inked all over and then wiped off to leave only ink in the engraved lines. The plate is then put into a high-pressure printing press with a sheet of moistened paper. The paper picks up the ink from the engraved lines to make a print.  

Engraved prints were a popular art form in the 20th century and were made famous by British painter and printmaker Stanley William Hayter.


What about buying a limited edition modern etched print?? This print style was invented by German Daniel Hopfer in the 1500s. Etching challenged engraving as the most popular printmaking medium as etching did not require special metalworking skills. For any artist with experience in drawing and sketching, etching was relatively easy to master.

Etching prints are most often linear containing great detail and contours. In etched prints, the raised portions of an etching remain blank whilst the crevices hold ink.

Artists famous for employing the etching technique include Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso and Francisco Goya.  


How about purchasing a limited edition modern stencil print?? This print style is known as screen-printing (or ‘silkscreen’/’serigraphy’) and involves ink being pushed through a stencil against paper using a squeegee. This technique uses a natural or synthetic mesh-like fabric which is tightly stretched across a rectangular frame (like a stretched canvas).

In recent years screen-printing has evolved to printing on an array of materials from paper, canvas and cloth to glass, metal and rubber. Stencil artists, such as the notorious Banksy, have used the technique to print onto walls, slabs of granite, bottles and onto textiles.


So what about buying a limited edition modern lithograph print? This print style was developed in 1798 by German Alois Senefelder and utilised the chemical repulsion of oil and water to create art. Lithography is renowned for capturing fine shading gradations with very little detail.

Lithography involves drawing an image on a porous surface-often limestone- with a greasy medium. Then, acid is applied to transfer the grease to the limestone leaving a burnt image on the surface. The stone is then wetted and rolled up meaning oil ink is applied with a roller to cover the entire surface. As water repels the oil in the ink, the ink only sticks to the greasy parts leaving a perfect image which is then transferred onto paper by a printing press.

Famous artists that utilised the lithography print approach include Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali, M.C. Esher and many more.

What to Look for When Purchasing Prints

When purchasing a print it is important to look out for certain markings and information. Markings such as initials and symbols often indicate important information about the print (which can of course influence a piece’s value). Initials are often the artist’s signature or name of the edition whereas symbols can indicate the number of the print. For example, a marking ‘12/40’ means it is the twelfth print of a run of forty.

It is essential to look out for these markings when purchasing prints as this information can provide a better idea about the piece which in turn can increase the value of it. Thanks to authoritative ecommerce websites like eBay, purchasing limited edition modern prints on the internet is not only safe and easy but it can also be as enjoyable as buying art from an auction. eBay offers its customers a choice where purchasing items is concerned; to buy the item immediately (by clicking Buy Now) or to bid in an auction format (by clicking Bid Now)) for those seeking to get the best price possible.

How to Buy Limited Edition Modern Prints From eBay

Buying limited edition modern prints on eBay is easy. To find the print you’re looking for, simply visit eBay’s Art department and click on Prints.

Buyers can also search for their desired print by using the search and advanced search toolbars. Merely type in the name, artist or style of the print and click on the relevant search result to be taken to that products individual listings page.

Each product has its own listings page which is full of information relating to the item. This information can include a detailed specification, product analysis, comments about the items condition as well as photographs to match.

eBay also provides information about the products seller including their eBay rating, selling history and location. This is particularly useful as the buyer can then decide whether the seller’s location is local enough to pick the item up themselves or whether they’re better off having it delivered to their door.

Should the buyer require more information or wish to have question answered by the seller, they can contact them from the items listings page.

Thanks to third party payment authority PayPal, all purchases on eBay are safe and secure. Should the buyer have any issues or problems with their chosen limited edition modern print, they are covered by eBay’s Buyer Protection scheme.

For any more information surrounding how to use eBay, please visit their comprehensive help section of the website.


When purchasing a limited edition modern print, there are many factors to consider. However with the help of this buying guide and the information outlined within it, buying a limited edition modern print from eBay has never been easier. Limited edition modern prints aren’t just a good investment for monetary reasons; they are a great investment in true art.

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