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In the age old tradition of selling things to people, exclusivity has always added a premium. If you want to get wealthy selling things there are two ways to go, 'sell a lot' or 'sell expensive'. Art has for centuries been the superlative vehicle for selling unique, un-repeatable objects, rarer than gold and likely to prove a better investment in the extreme long term.

The infuriating aspect of this inherent exclusivity, for artists and dealers at least, is that it is so tempting to go both ways, in other words 'sell a lot expensively'. Imagine that you have just spent five years, laying on your back up on some scaffolding getting that expression in Adam's eye just right, wouldn't you be tempted to take a photo and sell the prints? The only problem with selling the prints is that they need to be given a semblance of exclusivity too, otherwise we could all go and sell our holiday snaps of the Sistine Chapel at Christies auctions and never work again.

This is what the term Giclee Print was invented for, to ascribe a sense of exclusivity to a fairly common object. The term was first coined as recently as the 1990s to describe a printing process that was beginning to replace the more traditional lithograph and photograph, which have both been sold as limited editions since their respective processes were invented. Provided that each print in the edition is clearly marked with the print number and edition number along with the signature of the artist, you could be fairly confident that you had in your hands one of the few prints made. Good printers would even prove the point by showing you the defaced master plate.

There is one thing that you really should know however, particularly before you consider buying a Giclee print. Giclee is another term for an inkjet print. The sophisticated sounding word is French, it means 'squirt' (Before you consider selling a Giclee print to a French person it might also save some embarrassment to know that giclee is also slang for the messy bit of an orgasm).

Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with an inkjet print, provided that it has a resolution of around 1440dpi, is printed on acid-free archival paper with dye based, lightfast, waterproof ink, something that can be done on fairly cheap Epson printers. Likewise there is nothing wrong with a limited edition that you can prove won't ever be re-printed in new editions should the digital file be copied. Just make sure that you aren't fooled by the squirt terminology, that you trust the artist that has signed the edition statement, and most importantly that the print itself is something you would have paid that much for regardless, just because you like it.

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