Before you buy, ask how many limited editions have been cast of the piece?
The reason behind the concept of "Limited Editions" is to make the piece rare and increase its exclusivity. Usually, once the edition is sold out, and the secondary market wants to purchase it, it usually sells for a higher price than it sold in the first round. As a collector of fine art, you should always ask "How many limited editions have been made of this piece?" It is a concept similar to that applied to limited edition prints. There is a direct correlation between the number of limited edition and the worth of the artwork. You should not expect to pay the same for a large edition vs. a small edition work. Also from an investment standpoint, it is a fact that true limited edition will increase more with time. Usually, you can find the designated limited edition number carved next to the artist's signature and date. For example, 2/12 means this particular piece is cast #2 of a total of 12 maximum numbers of castings. If this information is not found engraved in the piece itself, you should assume there is no limit to the number of castings.
What are AP's?
AP stands for "Artist Proof." In addition to the pre-determined number of limited editions, the artist reserves the right to cast a pre-determined number of AP's. Typically AP's are meant to give the artist the opportunity to perfect the patina process before starting to number the limited editions. At times, AP's have been known to sell for more than the limited edition castings themselves, especially when all the limited editions have been sold. It is up to the artist to decide how many AP's to cast, and at which point during the casting process will they be cast. The letters "AP" and the number of AP's should be carved next to the artist signature, date, and limited edition number. For example, AP 2/3 means there are a total of 3 AP's and this is AP #2. In my opinion, the amount of AP's should only be a fraction of the total limited editions, and under no circumstance should they exceed the number of limited editions. For example, if you have a limited edition of nine to twelve, I would personally limit my AP's to not more than 3 to 4, otherwise what is the point of having limited editions?