Allan has been keeping a keen watch on eBay and other internet auction sites for sellers trying to pass off various items as genuine Norman Lindsay Facsimile Etchings published by Odana Editions. Furthermore, he is exploring litigation procedures, with the assistance of ebay, for those sellers who are infringing copyright or trade practices laws.
To a lesser extent, there are also sellers advertising pages from books such as Norman Lindsay: Favourite Etchings, 1977 and 1984 and Norman Lindsay: 200 Etchings, 1974. The pages are described as 'original bookplates' and most people would think that it is an original work, not a page ripped out of a book. Allan has been able to advise a number of these sellers of their incorrect advertising and they have changed the descriptions of their items accordingly. We want to advise that we are ever vigilant in our tracking of those who commit fraud and intend to follow-up with litigation. If you peruse the internet auction sites and notice anything that you feel is not legitimate, we would very much like to know.
For further information, please contact Bec by phone on 61 2 6238 0720 or by email. For more information on copyright and the Facsimile Etchings, please see our Copyright page.
NORMAN LINDSAY - LTD EDITION ENGRAVINGS - 1924 - V RARE
These are pages from Pen Drawings by Norman Lindsay published by McQuitty in 1924. They are reproductions of pen drawings which were tipped into this book.
NORMAN LINDSAY - THE ACCIDENT (182/250) - 1910 - RARE
These are also pages from a limited edition book. The seller describes this as a limited edition collotype. Collotype is simply the printing process and although the books were printed as a limited edition, the pages are not limited edition as the images were never released in a stand alone edition.
NORMAN LINDSAY - AUTHENTIC - BEAUTIFUL FRAME
This seller describes their item as a Norman Lindsay drawing but actually has a page from one of the etching books. The seller asserts that they do not sell copies or pages from books, yet that is exactly what they are.
NORMAN LINDSAY - LIMITED EDITION - BEAUTIFUL FRAME - THE STAIRS - 63/200
This seller is offering a page from the two volume publication Norman Lindsay: Two Hundred Etchings
From our experience it is apparent that some eBay sellers know exactly what they have on offer but are attempting to disguise its true origin or try to ‘sex it up’ with fancy printing terms such as ‘monophoto lithograph’. Other sellers have no idea what they have and simply reuse the description from when they bought it. eBay is no different from any other auction. The bidder must do their homework and if the item seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are numerous valuable and well described items on eBay and you will usually find that the seller will go out of their way to describe the origin in detail and often give a reference source. These sellers will also give a detailed and accurate responses to email queries.
Reading the feedback on eBay sellers is of some value but it really only tells you about the packaging and postage, not whether the items themselves are of any value.
It is important to remember that the value of an item often relates to its ‘intactness’. When pages are removed from a book, the intactness is destroyed and the value diminishes accordingly. Consider it from this perspective. If you see a book (any book) that you wish to buy, you would consider several aspects in your evaluation of its worth. Top of your list would be the book’s condition. Is it damaged in any way or marked? What is the condition of the dustjacket, the internal pages, etc? Every mark or damage reduces its value. A perfect, intact edition justifiably commands the highest price. The more damage, the lower the price. Now consider it from the view of a single page. This is the damaged part and the least intact part of the original item. That it is a picture rather than text does not change the fact that it was once part of another work and now separated from this work has questionable value. To bid on a page from a book is to bid on the damaged section only. That is not to say it might not look good framed up but when you think of it in this context the value of the item is no more than the value of the frame. No matter which way you try to describe it, a page from a book is always just that, a page from a book.
An example of this practice is the 1974 Angus & Robertson publication Norman Lindsay: Two Hundred Etchings. This publication was published as a two volume set and 210 were printed with 200 offered for sale. Jane Lindsay signed and numbered Volume I of each set. Some eBay sellers are taking the pages from this edition (and others) and referring to each page as a limited edition print, which is misleading.
Some have suggested that because the books were a limited edition, then by association so are the images contained within them. There are several flaws in this assumption.
The first is that the reproductions of the works were not created in their own right. This implies that they are not prints at all. Technically a print is an original work of art but is now used generically to describe a stand alone reproduction. However, a page from a book is not a stand alone reproduction. It was printed as a page which is part of a book and even if removed from a book is still a book page.
Another way to see the contradiction in using 'limited edition' to describe book pages is to use another medium altogether, such as a car. General Motors Holden produce a marque called the Monaro. This is a sports style car and several limited edition releases have occurred over the years. Each edition is different to the previous and a limited number of cars are produced in each edition. If you were to apply the term limited edition to this car such as some sellers do to book pages then the door, bonnet, seats, rear vision mirror and so on could all be removed as individual parts and classified as limited edition. In this case clearly no one would consider the components of the car limited edition. Only the car in its entirety is limited edition. If you view the picture pages of a limited edition book to be limited edition prints then the cover of the book, the title page and all the text and other contents are all limited editions too, which of course is nonsensical.
As mentioned earlier, to use the term limited edition print, the work should have been produced in its own right. It may then be inserted into a book but it must be able to stand alone. There are some books containing work that do match this criteria. Norman Lindsay created a number of original works that were then included in books. Examples include the original etchings Columbine and Your Fate. However, they were not given page numbers or anything to suggest that they were not works in their own right. The De Luxe Edition of The Complete Etchings of Norman Lindsay contains a limited edition Facsimile Etchings titled The Artist. Both De Luxe editions of Norman Lindsay Watercolours: 1897-1969 and Norman Lindsay: Oil Paintings 1889-1969 contain limited edition photographs of paintings. None of the works that are tipped-in to these De Luxe editions were available separately, but if they were removed from their books, are still considered a limited edition in their own right, because the book has not been destroyed. The value of the book has been diminished due to the removal of the limited edition work. Remove a page from the same book and it remains just that, a page and the book has lost most of its value.
In a number of books with reproductions of Norman’s works, each reproduction is listed as plate one, plate two and so on. The Two Hundred Etchings of Norman Lindsay is just one example. The seller then uses the term Bookplate Print to describe these reproductions reasoning that since the plates come from a book then they can be described as Bookplate Prints. This extrapolation is incorrect and misleading. There is no reference to these reproductions as Bookplate Prints in any of these books, only as plates. A number of books do not even refer to them as plates. A Bookplate is a distinctly different item and should not be confused with a book page.
Items commonly referred to as Bookplates on eBay are taken from several publications, the most common being Norman Lindsay: Favourite Etchings published by Angus & Robertson in 1977. This and the 1984 reprint contain 100 reproductions of etchings. Other books regularly broken up for their images include the Norman Lindsay Water Colour Book 1939, Paintings in Oil: Norman Lindsay1945, Norman Lindsay: Pencil Drawings 1969 and Norman Lindsay: Selected Pen Drawings 1968. We have recently noticed pages from our own watercolour and oil Books now appearing on eBay being described as Norman Lindsay prints.
The difference between a page from a book and an original Bookplate is significant. A Bookplate or ex libris is a label identifying the owner of a book. It is usually adhered inside a book's front cover or to its front end paper. Many Bookplates are decorative. They often bear a coat of arms (with or without a family motto) or some other design personal to the owner. Bookplates are sometimes called "ex libris," because this Latin phrase meaning "From the books of . . ." traditionally appears on Bookplates. Modern Bookplates often carry images or text praising books or scholarly pursuits. Bookplates may contain a phrase, chosen by the owner, inscribed somewhere in the design, or the message may be purely visual.
It could be viewed that to describe a page from a book as a Bookplate print may breach section 55 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 which states: A person shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is liable to mislead the public as to the nature, the manufacturing process, the characteristics, the suitability for their purpose or the quantity of any goods.
Bookplates have long been identified with bibliophiles (lovers of books, collectors of books). The earliest Bookplates appeared in Germany a few years after the invention of movable type. Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528) and Hans Holbein the Younger (German, 1497/8-1543) designed and engraved several Bookplates. The earliest known American plate may be the one for Stephen Daye in 1642. Paul Revere (American, 1735-1818) was well known for his Bookplate engravings, as was Nathaniel Hurd (American, 1730-1778). The practice of designing Bookplates flourished throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Norman’s first known Bookplate was a woodcut for his friend Hugh Conant in 1897. In 1898 he made a Bookplate for another friend JSC Elkington, and followed with a gift of a second in 1899. All told Norman produced fifty-two Bookplates, working mainly in woodcut and pen and ink, only seven were etched. Odana Editions has reproduced the Rose Lindsay Bookplate as a limited edition facsimile etching which is currently available. Clearly, there is a great deal of difference between Norman Lindsay Bookplates and pages from books that contain reproductions of Norman’s works.
Incorrect use of the term Bookplate Print is not exclusive to eBay sellers. It is also found to be incorrectly applied to reproductions offered by other internet auction sites and auction houses. Whilst it is not illegal to pull apart books to sell the individual pages one must question the ethics of those who carry out and endorse such a practice. Placing a value on a page from a book is subjective but it can be reasoned through thus. When the book is pulled apart neither it nor its component parts are now complete and as such the value of each part is questionable. Many say that the value of such a work is in the frame only. Some sellers have stated that it is allowable to use the term Bookplate incorrectly if the price of the item is low. This demonstrates a very poor level of professionalism and should not be accepted as an excuse. We have often noticed that pages from books are also being described via the printing process that created them such as Hand Gravure, Collotypes or lithographs. Such a description may accurately describe the process by which the pages were printed but it does not change the fact that the item is still nothing more than a page from a book.
Hand gravure is an itaglio process, similar in principle to etching. The gravure plate is made photographically. First, a continuous-tone (unscreened) positive film (or set of separate films for colour work) is made from the original art. If type is to be combined with images, the typematter is photographed onto line negative, and a contone negative of the image produced. Both type and image are then printed onto a combined positive screen. This film is then transferred to a gelatin transfer medium which has been previously screened with a 150 line glass screen. During exposure of the gelatin through the film positive, the light passing through the non-printing and pale areas of the image causes the gelatin to harden. The gelatin transfer is then laid around an electroplated steel cylinder and developed to wash away any soft areas of gelatin. This results in gelatin of a thickness corresponding to the tonal values of the image. Subsequent etching with ferric chloride penetrates the metal to a depth determined by the resistance of the gelatin coating. The result is the production of cells of differing depths. Deep cells are produced where the gelatin is thinnest and shallow cells where the image is of a light tone.
When the plate is ready, liquid ink is applied and the paper is fed through the press on rubber-covered cylinders. To produce the prominent plate mark the page is re-run through the press against a blank or blind metal plate. The Hand Gravure process requires a skilled printer to achieve an accurate plate. The gravure process is superior to the lithographic process for producing high quality reproductions. The gravure process was chosen to produce the etching reproductions in the 1928 edition of Satyrs and Sunlight because it would reproduce the etchings most accurately. However, the gravure process is tedious and expensive and is the reason that the other works in the publication were reproduced using the collotype process.