Posted by Andy G. on May 23, 2002 at 05:57:35:
I'll direct this question at John, since I saw him answer a similar question before, but anyone is most welcome to jump in.
I saw an 18th century actor print at an online auction today that attracted me very much. As I know many reproductions have been made of these, I compared it closely with an original in a book, as I know that you recommend, John, as the only way to be sure.
Well, the image matched up line for line pretty well, but not perfectly. Some of the fine detail lines were different, such as dots on trees and rocks to suggest texture, breaks in the line here and there, and the thickness and extension of the calligraphy line in the signature. These were very, very slight differences. Overall though, the similarities far outweighed the differences, so I found myself unable to make a firm judgment as to originality.
My question is, how much of the small differences in lines can be due to the impression? Making close comparison, it was clear to me that the print in the book was not as good an impression, though its color was much better than the online print. For example, can a missing dot in tree bark texture or the varying thickness of line be due to the impression? The online print actually had an extra line by the actor's crest that wasn't on the print in the book, but I found myself wondering if this could have been added by hand, or perhaps even carved out of the later impression, as it looked unnatural.
I must say, I really do not find these comparisons easy to make, and I lack the confidence to know if the differences I am seeing are enough to constitute judging it as a reproduction (if it is a repro, it's an early one). Any advice?
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