Terminology: What Do The Words On An Antique Print Mean?

Posted by Fine Rare Prints 04/02/2015 5 Comment(s) Antique Print Tips,

If you collect antique prints, you may have wondered what the sometimes mysterious text below the image means. In fact, it often reveals quite a lot such as the name of the artist and the printing method used.


However, the words are often difficult to understand as they are usually abbreviations of latin or foreign words, or words that are no longer commonly used. Here are explanations of the ones we come across quite often:



a.f., aq., aquaforti
Means "aquaforti" in Latin, which is nitric acid. This was used to etch metal printing plates, so the print is an etching.



Cael., Caelavit.
Means "engraved". The name following this will be that of the engraver. This was used on engravings until the seventeenth century



Del., Delt.,  or Delin. 
Mean "drew". The name following will be the artist's who who did the drawing that the print reproduces.



"Eng., Engd.


Means "engraved". The name following this will be that of the engraver.



F., Fec., Fect., Fecit, Fac., Faciebat.
Means "made" or "did". Not a precisely used term, but often means the person drew the image and made the printing plate.



Means "engraved". The name following this will be that of the engraver. Sometimes in France it was also used on lithographs.



Imp., impressit.
Means "printed", usually with a rolling press. The name following will be the printer's.



Means "printed on a lithographic (stone) press".



Pinx., Ping.
Means "painted". The name following will be that of the artist who did the painting that the print reproduces.



Sc., Sculp., Sculpt.
Means "engraved". The name following will be the engraver's name.



Peoples names.
If you see someone's name on the print, usually, the name on the left is the original artist's, and the name on the right is that of the craftsman who printed image.





5 Comment(s)

Jack Palmer:
21/01/2016, 10:26:33 AM

Thanks for explaining some of the terminology on antique prints. I don't have too much experience with collecting antiques yet but I was just visiting my grandma and she has a lot of Asian antiques. It gave me the desire to start collecting myself. Now I know a little more about prints, thanks to your article. Thank you for sharing.

Fine Rare Prints:
23/05/2016, 01:14:19 AM, www.finerareprints.com

Glad you enjoyed the article Jack! Kind regards Peter at Fine Rare Prints

Julie Arnett:
16/10/2016, 02:07:12 AM, www.finerareprints.com

Re: Names on prints.....Is the craftsman/printer ever the creater as well?

Dilip De:
31/01/2017, 02:04:45 AM

Excellent article...most informative..could you throw some light on J M W Turners engraving titled"the battle of Waterloo " with gold lines? best regards

22/05/2017, 08:58:22 AM

What does the abb inv. mean on a print? Great article, thanks.

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