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Playing the values: Sound and vision of the violin of the Titanic

On 19th October 2013, the auction house Henry Aldridge & Son sold a violin rescued from the Titanic formore than $1.7 million. The violin is said to have been played to calm the passengers while the cruiseship was sinking. In its time, what was an inexpensive violin has today reached that of an economicallyimportant violin by acquiring what has been named “prosthetic memory”, a process where scenes shownto the public by the media are assimilated as personal experience of events they themselves did not live.This article will explore the process on how a common object has gained prestige both as cultural heritageand allure as a treasure by recognition of various values by different stakeholders: an historical value bythe museum, an emotional value by the media and an economic value by the auction market.

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