Friday, June 20, 2014

Art Terms Decoded: What does "Stoned Signed" or "Plate Signed" Mean?

Andy Warhol "Marilyn Monroe Castelli Invitation" signed in felt pen.
As you begin to delve deeper into the world of fine art collecting you will find that one of the most important indicators of value and potential worth is the artist's signature. Some might even say that this is the most important aspect of an artwork that makes it a desirable luxury commodity.

The reasoning behind the incredible value of the artist's signature above all else, is that a signature is the easiest way to determine the authenticity of a work of art. Many have tried to fake the signature of the great master artists throughout time and sometimes people are fooled - but often expert art dealers, gallerists, curators and appraisers are able to catch a fraudulent mark. A fake signature automatically calls in question the authenticity of the work itself whether it is a painting or original

Picasso "Le Vieux Roi" hand-signed in Blue
Picasso "Le Vieux Roi" Plate Signed in Red

From a pure collectorship stand point a hand-signed artwork is going to be the most valuable investment. That is not to say that an unsigned artwork does not have value, it just means the MOST valuable artworks are hand-signed ones.
Picasso "Ronde de la Jeunesse" Signed in the Stone
So this brings us to our term "Plate Signed" sometimes also known as "Stone Signed". A plate signed work is specifically referring to an original print or graphic on paper with a printed signature. This is precisely what it sounds like; a plate signature is a signature that is part of the composition and is printed along with the art image. As an example scenario: Pablo Picasso draws an etching composition onto a metal plate - he then signs the plate and dates it - the plate is inked and pressed onto paper and along with his etching Picasso's signature is printed. This would be a "plate signed" original etching.
The term "stone signed" is exactly the same but specifically references the stone slabs that might have been used to create an original lithograph. Sometimes artist catalogue raisonnes reference that an edition is "sign in the stone," which is also the same. 
The most important take-away in terms of collecting a plate or stoned signed artwork is that it is not equivalent to a hand-signed work and should be valued as such.
You can see more of our hand-signed, plate signed, and stoned signed original prints on our website:

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