That distinction is an important one. Warhol’s silkscreen-on-canvas works are routinely among the top lots at auction in a given season—his one-of-a-kind 1963 work Eight Elvises, for instance, fetched $100 million in 2008, placing it among the most expensive works of art in the world at the time. Meanwhile, his prints on paper tend to sell for relatively reasonable sums in the six figures, or, in the case of his unlimited editions (also called non-editioned multiples), for a little under $400.
There are also variable editions, which, as the name implies, are editions that are varied slightly piece to piece. That could mean that they are on different surfaces, are made of different materials, are colored differently, or use slightly different techniques. Often, these are signed with the initials “EV” along with the edition number.
Far from being hard-and-fast rules, the distinctions between prints, editions, and multiples serve far better as loose guidelines that help clarify the work’s value and give artists a kind of agency over their market. For artists in high demand, editions and multiples allow for greater accessibility. And while prints’ overlap with the world of editions and multiples is significant in many ways, their market can sometimes be a universe of its own.