Examining Hahnemühle’s Certificate of Authenticity System: Using the Holograms

Hahnemühle’s Certificate of Authenticity system.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my initial article exploring Hahnemühle’s Certificate of Authenticity System, which provides artists with a rigorous tool for combating unauthorized reproductions. This post, part two in the series, continues with my own experience with the system as I use it for a large museum exhibition.

Previously, I printed examined the contents of Hahnemühle’s Certificate kit, including its numbered holograms, deckle-edge certificate paper, and online registration system, printed the certificates, and registered the holograms using the online system. Since then, a lot has happened, so keep reading.


Visit Red River PaperBefore I continue, I’ll ask for your help up front: When you choose to purchase printing papers such as Hanhemühle, Red River, Epson, Canson or Moab, please do so using the links on this blog. Dick Blick Art Materials provides all the papers listed except for Red River, which provides its paper direct. Whenever you purchase by clicking through from this blog to these sites, it helps pay for all the materials, ink, time and technology I need in order to provide you with these posts. Thanks in advance.

Also, I prefer to disclose that I’m a brand agnostic; if I choose to use a company’s materials or equipment, it’s because I’ve found them to be up to my own high standards (just ask my students), and I don’t stick to just one brand. I think that’s important for my readers, too, as it’s never any help to read someone’s work that is a parrot voice. If there’s a problem with something I’m reviewing, you’ll know about it. As one writing professor in my undergrad said about all life, perfection is something for which we strive, but seldom attain. The same is true for any product.

The Holograms on the Certificates

For this show, the Museum of Nebraska Art’s Spirit Biennial, I am showing four prints; I printed three, since these were within the dimensions my Epson Stylus Pro 3880 could handle. I delivered those pieces to my framer, Marcy Maley at The Frame Lady, right away.

The fourth, a 30″ x 20″ print of one of my best-known images, High Plains Train, was made by my good friend, master printer Bob Korn in Orleans, Massachusetts. I was in a hurry to deliver the piece, so when Bob’s print arrived on my doorstep, I didn’t even open it, but simply took it to Marcy so she could set it up and order materials.

Figure 01. A detail of two of the Hahnemühle certificates for my numbered prints, with the certified holograms affixed.
Figure 01. A detail of two of the Hahnemühle certificates for my numbered prints, with the certified holograms affixed.

Then, while I waited for Marcy to work her magic, I affixed the holograms to the printed certificates and readied them for placement in clear archival envelopes that would be mounted to the back of the final framed images (see Figure 01).

Hahnemühle suggests the holograms are tamper-proof, and they’re not kidding. Each numbered hologram is die-cut to come apart in pieces, so there’s really no way to take them off anything they’re stuck on, ever, without destroying them.

Including the paper they come on in the package.

Now, I’m not complaining or criticizing. It is crucial the holograms be this fragile, or they wouldn’t fulfill the purpose to which they’re designed. For users of the system, however, I’d make a strong suggestion of peeling very, very carefully, or the holograms will come apart.

Once off the package paper, however, they’re easier to put on the certificates, and I have to say that I was very impressed. This part of Hahnemühle’s system is both well-considered and well-execututed. I emerged feeling very secure in the protection of the four certificates, as well as feeling confident that the certificates and holograms would “wow” the patrons who will eventually own the framed works.

The Holograms on the Prints

I’ll make one thing clear: I don’t like to sign the front of my images (although there are always exceptions, such as patron requests). I’ve always felt my image should be the signature. Rather, I sign under the image on the dry-mount mat, and that signature is hidden by the framing mat. Then, I place my artist’s label on the back of the dry-mount mat with a thumbprint. If a patron needs proof the image is real, then that’s why there is a certificate of authenticity.

Figure 02. My thumbprint, artist's label and Hahnemühle hologram on the reverse side of the dry-mount mat for High Plains Train.
Figure 02. My thumbprint, artist’s label and Hahnemühle hologram on the reverse side of the dry-mount mat for High Plains Train.

And with the Hahnemühle program, in addition to the label and thumbprint, I’ve added the hologram (see Figure 02). That numbered hologram is the mate to the one on the certificate; the shared serial number on both is noted in the text of the certificate, and the print is registered with the MyArtRegistry at Hahnemühle’s worldwide headquarters in Dessel, Germany.

So, just this last Saturday, I trundled to The Frame Lady shop to affix the holograms, labels and thumbprints on the four images. I was quietly excited to get Marcy’s impressions of the system, since she’s perhaps the most perfection-oriented framer I’ve ever known (and between you and me, that’s saying something).

Marcy’s been my framer for a long time, and we’ve worked through authentication of my work together during that epoch. This, we agreed, seems to be the most foolproof and impressive system either of us has seen.




Figure 03. After affixing the holograms on the back of the dry-mount mat, Marcy Maley proceeds to check the match of the frame and double mats.
Figure 03. After affixing the holograms on the back of the dry-mount mat, Marcy Maley proceeds to check the match of the frame and double mats.

With the holograms attached to both prints and certificates, Marcy is proceeding to complete the framing process (assembling the images in the frames) so that I can drop off the finished pieces at the Museum early next week (thanks for working all weekend to help me out, Marcy!). When I left the shop Saturday morning, she was doing final match checks on High Plains train before cutting the double mat (see Figure 03).

To be completely honest about the Hahnemühle system, it makes me feel a bit self-important. The holograms, certificates, and method of mounting them to the back of the frames gives the images a prestigious and official feel; that often translates to better patron relations and repeat purchases.


Because patrons who collect art usually do so with a mind for perpetuity: These are pieces to be kept in a collection. In such cases, adherence to a professional process of provenance is critical, and thus far, I’ve found the physical component of the Hahnemühle Certificate of Authenticity system more that passes that test.

In the second week of April, after the gala opening of the show, I’ll have had a chance to ask patrons about their impressions of the system. Then I’ll return to this series for the final installment, relay some of the comments, and wrap up with my own thoughts.

Until then, I hope your next print, is your best print.


Questions? Comments? Please leave them below, and be respectful.

3 thoughts

    1. Chitra,

      I’m honored you like it! I use a custom template based on Avery archival grade 2″ labels (the generic template for InDesign is on Avery’s website), which I designed a number of years ago. I also use a custom, archival stamp for images that looks pretty similar to the one used by Ansel Adams when he was active in selling his work. It took a very long time for me to decide on an exact method of presenting my work across all venues, and if you’d like to know more about how those decisions were made, you should read my post on framing style.

      All the best,


  1. Hello. Thanks for the detailed review. I wondered if it is safe to put the hologram sticker directly on the reverse side of the print? My prints will not be dry mounted and I don’t know if over time the adhesive might damage the print?

Join the discussion!