Autographed Violin

January 14, 2007 at 06:06 AM · I have been playing violin for almost 6 months and I absolutley love it. Recently I had the opportunity to go see Hilary Hahn in concert and afterwards I asked her to sign my violin which she did. It is a Franz Hoffman Maestro and was originally purchased for $230.00. What would ya'll experienced violinists be willing to pay for such a violin? (not that I'm sure I'd ever want to sell it!) Ms. Hahn signed the back and her signature is beautiful. Thanks!

Replies (26)

January 14, 2007 at 12:18 AM · Sorry, I was in a hurry to finish that post because dinner was ready. I also meant to ask if having someone sign my instrument even increased the value or does it make it go down? Or is my violin so cheap that nothing short of breaking it will decrease the value? Again Thanks!

January 14, 2007 at 06:46 AM · uh, if like 10 masterclasses with Hahn are involved, a LOT. ;).

January 14, 2007 at 06:54 AM · I am perplexed that she agreed to sign the back of your violin (or A VIOLIN for that matter).

But since you asked for it and it wasn't a Strad, I guess she felt OK about.

Normally, we don't go around signing instruments, it is "kind of sacriligious".

I would venture to say that the fiddle is worth whatever people will pay for her autograph, no more than that.

It is a very different issue in the Rock n'Roll scene or Jazz scene etc. and valuable instruments especially the ones signed by celebrity musicians.

January 14, 2007 at 07:14 AM · It's worth more than her signature without the violin, or the violin without her signature. It's worth less than her signature on a check, or her fingernails in your back.

January 14, 2007 at 10:32 AM · It's probably worth less than what you paid for the violin.

Who in their right mind would buy a scratched up student violin? There is little to no market for violin memorabilia that I know of, like there are for baseball cards.

January 14, 2007 at 01:09 PM · Wow! I didn't realize this would be so frowned upon! For the record, it isn't "scratched up", it's in sharpie and her signature is quite nice. Sorry if this idea offended anyone's idea of classical violinists. I have taken the best care of my violin I know how.

January 14, 2007 at 01:26 PM · i say, run with it forrest!

see how many signatures you can collect on that violin from all your favorite artists!

just that when you ask how much people would pay for it may rub some people the wrong way:)

January 14, 2007 at 03:04 PM · Wow, I'm surprised Ms. Hahn agreed to sign the violin, too, even if it was a student violin. I agree most vehemently with Gennady that it is really "sacreligious" to sign a violin. I once asked a prominent artist to kiss my violin for good vibes, and was refused. Understandable, really. As for increasing or decreasing the value of the violin, I don't think the signature really did anything. If anyone were to buy it, they would buy it for the signature, not for the worth of the violin. Just my two cents. :)

January 14, 2007 at 03:57 PM · I am sure I remember an issue of The Strad where there was a picture and discussion of a cello (quite a fine cello if I remember correctly) on which the owner had collected dozens of signatures of world-famous artists... Heifetz, Piatigorsky, Oistrakh, Menuhin, etc etc. The cello looked literally covered in autographs, sometimes layered on top of each other. The article would have been from about 10 years ago... anyone else remember?

January 14, 2007 at 04:26 PM · Usually I just ask for a signed program or a picture.

January 14, 2007 at 05:19 PM · Strange. I have never heard of anyone autographing a violin before! I've seen violins with inscriptions by the maker inside, little poems or prayers and stuff like that, but autographs? From famous soloists?

Although, given that said violin was a $200 student violin, I'm inclined to decide it's not a big deal, not really sacrilegious IN THIS CASE, and it'll make a neat conversation piece/collector's item someday. :)

That said, I'm not about to ask Barnabas Kelemen to sign MY violin next week...just my program will be fine, Barnabas. :)

January 14, 2007 at 07:39 PM · I heard HH in recital a week ago, and some of my students who went to the post-concert Meet-And-Greet reported back to me that someone brought along a violin for Miss H to sign...was that you, Graham?

My students were a little shocked, but I don't think it is such a big deal to autograph a VSO. Enjoy.

I once had a very sad, disturbed student carve a swastika on the back of her violin. Now that is just tragic.

Happier thoughts...when I was in high school, I heard Nigel Kennedy play the Elgar concerto, just beautifully, and I went backstage to get his autograph. He not only signed my program, but drew devil's horns and Frankenstein stiches on his program photo! I still have it too!

January 14, 2007 at 09:49 PM · Thank you all so much for your input. I had not realized this was thought to be a bad thing or I would never have put Ms. Hahn in the position of signing my instrument. I did get her autograph on my program though.

January 14, 2007 at 10:57 PM · Don't feel too bad about it, it's not like you desecrated a priceless Stradivarius or something. :)

January 15, 2007 at 11:15 AM · I remember watching a documentary of Perlman in China and at an autograph signing some kid shoved a violin at him to sign. Perlman freaked, "No fiddles! No fiddles!"

However, I got the impression it was less about desecrating an instrument and more about the possibility that it would be used to enhance the value of the violin on the (celeb autograph) market. There's always the possibility that someone will try and sell a celeb-signed violin as "Played by said celeb". Whether that would fly anywhere (other than ebay where even rocks fly) I don't know. Certainly, a lot of celebs get a bit toey about someone getting their autograph just so they can sell it.


January 15, 2007 at 02:05 AM · Graham, she signed it. That should answer any question you have about signing it:)

January 15, 2007 at 02:25 AM · I wouldn't purchase a student violin at my stage in the first place. I wouldn't even consider buying it if it was a good professional violin. How would a luthier handle the autograph if the violin needs revarnishing??

Unless I absolutely love Hilary Hann and can't get her autography, I'll pay for the price of the autography and nothing on the violin.

That said, I believe the violin worth more to yourself (without putting a price tag) than anyone else. Hope her autograph gives you more pleasure in playing the violin.

January 15, 2007 at 05:57 PM · I personally wouldn't have done that with my instrument, but since you did I am inclined to think along the lines of the person who said try to get as many autographs as you can. It could be neat to have Hahn, Ehnes, Shaham...etc sign it.

I had Perlman sign my solo Bach a couple of years ago...I'm really glad he did that for me.

January 15, 2007 at 07:03 PM · Is this for real? You had Hilary sign your violin with a Sharpie???? Tell me you're joking....You're going to have autographed baseball cards worth more than that box of wood now.

January 15, 2007 at 07:17 PM · Nigel Kennedy had a Strad filled with signatures...this is true... on the varnish !!!I do not have any problems with manufactured violins being signed...Many italians instruments, like mine, bear the signature of the previous owner ( being Thomas Mawkes in my case 1834), but this is done by inserting inside a small ticket and does not damages the instrument...Ysaie del Gesù has an inscription saying " Ce violon a été le compagnon de toute ma vie." Stern, who owed it later wished to add : mine to!!!


January 16, 2007 at 09:10 PM · I admit I agree with everyone who finds the idea of signing a violin a bit distasteful, but I think that's largely because of the way we have been conditioned to respect violins. (The same way book-burning makes me queasy sometimes, even though burning other kinds of paper doesn't.) It is indeed quite rare that a soloist will agree to sign a violin.

To answer your question, I probably wouldn't pay any more for a violin autographed by Hilary, mostly because her autograph isn't that valuable in and of itself since she's still alive and gives out her signature quite freely. (If it were, say, Paganini's autograph, that would be a different matter. :) )

January 17, 2007 at 08:02 AM · i don't see anything wrong with signing a violin. okay i wouldn't like to see a strad or guaneri etc signed, that would be ridiculous, but i think the idea of getting a basic violin signed by a great player is a pretty cool idea

January 17, 2007 at 02:11 PM · Karin,

Mentionning Paganini's name made me remember about Paganini himself signing instruments...I have seen a guitar bearing his signature a few years ago...So, that practice was " à la mode" during his days...


January 21, 2007 at 01:43 AM · Hey, now, ink on the instrument is one thing, ice cream is another thing altogether.

I'd pay 5 or 10 bucks for a violin signed by Ms. Hahn or any other young violinist. She's going to crank out a lot of autographs before she's done, I can't imagine they'd have much street value.

January 21, 2007 at 09:52 PM · I think it is cool. She's on my son's list for signatures of one of his instruments--he already has Josh Bell's and Darol Anger's signatures.

January 21, 2007 at 09:52 PM · Elaborately decorated Hardanger fiddles are the rule rather than the exception; as well as extensive inlay on the fingerboard, they are covered with fine ink decoration all over the body. The players insist that this shows respect for the fiddle.

I once had an old Martin guitar that was signed by most of the members of an earlier owner's platoon. Supposedly he carried it around during WWII.

My worry with the violin would be that cleaning might smear/remove the signature. Insofar as it's a lowly student instrument, I like the suggestion of accumulating a passel of autographs on it. Certainly won't hurt the sound, and it'd be fun.

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