Techniques such as photography, printmaking, and cast sculpture enable artists to create multiple versions of the same work. While these artworks are not unique, they are still considered original artworks—and can be as important to artists as their one-of-a-kind pieces.
With limited editions, artists restrict the total amount of artworks produced in the edition, so that each individual work will retain its value over time. Printers and artists often destroy the materials that they use to create these works—whether that be printing plates or photographic negatives—to make sure that it is impossible to add to the edition later on.
Pro tip: When discussing an edition with a gallery or auction house, you may want to confirm that the artwork you are buying is from a first edition. In rare cases, artists, galleries, or artist estates will decide to extend a limited edition—and they will label these subsequent editions as a second edition, third edition, and so forth. If the edition is created after the artist’s death, it will be called a posthumous edition. Because these artworks are farther from the artist’s original intention, they will be less valuable when compared to those from the first edition.