limited editions

Which art form do you prefer--original or reproduction?

Limited edition Ascot sideboard with vine japanning detail from Martin Pierce Custom Hardware We certainly view our custom designed architectural hardware and furniture pieces as artwork and often refer to them as functional art.  But, fortunately for all of us,  art comes in many affordable forms.  Lisa Leonard from LML Art Group in San Diego, California shared some of her expertise to help you make the right choice for your project.

Original:  Original art is just what it says--a piece of art that is in it's original format. This would include a painting, drawing, sculpture, weaving, etc.   While prints or limited editions may be created from this item,  the original is always the first one produced.  In the event that no reproductions are made then the original becomes an often valuable one-of-a-kind item.

Limited Edition:  When an artist creates a specific number of the same piece and then destroys the mold, for example, it becomes a limited edition piece.  Each piece is numbered so that you are aware of the order in which your piece was cast or created. There are differing schools of thought on the value of the number.  With our obsession with the #1 in this society, some collectors feel that the lower the number the more valuable the piece.  Conversely, others believe that the final number in an edition is more valuable as it is the last one created.  For your enjoyment, Ms. Leonard recommends that, if you have a choice you select a number that is important to you such as an anniversary or birthdate or your own "lucky" number.  At Martin Pierce, we offer limited editions in some of our furniture and hardware collections and those can be viewed by visiting our site.

Print: Prints or off set lithographs are the most inexpensive form of reproduction. They are photo mechanically produced, usually on thin paper.  A good way to make sure you are receiving the form you are paying for, take a look at the item under a magnifying glass.... a print will show a series of dots that make up the image while the more expensive silkscreen will show a solid wash of color.

Silkscreens:  While silkscreens are also printed, it is onto heavier paper and with a time intensive process of paint screened onto paper with each color requiring a different screen until the image is complete.  Silkscreens are often offered in a limited edition, thereby increasing the cost and perhaps even the value.

Giclees:  Giclees are computer generated with ink jet printers similar to your own home printer.  However, the paper is much heavier and the ink (paint) is denser.  Giclees were originally printed as limited editions and considered quite valuable.   While they are more expensive than an off-set print, today's technology makes it possible to print them in vast quantities and they are not considered a from of original art.

The beauty and value of any piece of art lies in the eyes of the beholder but it is also good to be armed with some knowledge before making these very important purchases.

To view our entire collection of custom and/or limited edition hardware and furniture, please visit our site at

Custom vs. ready made...which do you prefer?

With the plethora of ready made and off the rack items available for your home or business it is sometimes easier to bypass the time and expense it takes to create a custom piece in order to get the job done.  But do you really know the difference between a custom piece and something that has been mass produced? Webster's Dictionary defines custom or bespoke as "...something made to individual specifications...".  For interior design purposes this basically means that you have something in the interior of your home or business that is unique to you and your design aesthetic.  This might be a piece of artwork, furniture, wall treatment or, in our case, custom hardware such as door levers, drawer pulls and knobs that has been created to meet your specific needs; no one else will have the exact same piece.

To follow the same idea, limited editions of artwork, furniture and hardware, while not one of a kind, also fall into the custom category.  The original print, wax mold or prototype was created by a designer and used as a template to produce a limited number of the same item.  In these instances, each item is usually hand-finished, painted, stained etc. to create a custom look.

Customization has become the "it" word in design brought on, no doubt, by the popularity of certain items that are seen used over and over again in both residential and commercial interior design.  But don't confuse this term with custom work--customization does not necessarily mean you have a unique and custom piece; it can simply imply that your mass produced item has been given a new finish, for example, or been personalized in some way.  Keep in mind that a genuine custom item is designed specifically with you and your needs in mind, guaranteeing you will have a unique and one-of-a-kind piece in your home.  Yes, this can be expensive but isn't the end result worth the extra cost?

You can view our products as well as many other custom item manufacturers by visiting the Virtual Architecture Exhibition.  For more information on our products, view  our complete line of hardware or speak with us about creating a custom piece for your business or home and to also get the latest news on what is happening at Martin Pierce, please visit us at