A License to Print Money

The week’s edition of Gleeful Profiteering We Saw in Gourmet is a brief item called “Prints Charming.”

We’ve always admired the gorgeous botanical prints produced in centuries past. But with price tags often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, that was all we could do. Now Discovery Editions is using new technology to reproduce these mouthwatering treasures in exquisite detail…. (From $495)


Translation:

Are you looking for a way to spend $500 or more for a reproduced picture of grapes? Now discoveryeditions.com is using new technology to bill your credit card an amount equivalent to the fee a skilled artist would charge for actually visiting your kitchen with one of those little palette things and just painting the grapes from scratch.


Seriously: Does Gourmet presume that its readers don’t know about eBay? Or, say, estate sales? Or vintage wine labels? Or antique book sellers? It would be one thing if Discovery Editions were selling actual prints for $500. It would be another if they were charging $50—or even $100—for high-quality reproductions. But in our modern era, you can go to a Kinko’s and get color copies of a luscious fidelity on high-quality paper for an entirely reasonable amount of money.

At any rate, a much more legitimate item immediately below “Prints Charming” details Bar Code Revolution, a Japanese design firm’s effort to inject UPC numbers with artistic oomph while retaining their technological utility. Now that’s progress.