University Archives

Lot 105

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Einstein Signed Photo & ALS Highly Important Scientific Mottos "Seek to understand everything...Believe nothing blindly"

Two fantastic signed items from famed scientist and genius, Albert Einstein. The letter is 1p, measuring 9" x 11.25", Scharbeutz near Lübeck, dated November 26, 1928. Signed at the conclusion "A. Einstein" and in the address to the A.E. Group as "A.E." A humorous and self-depricating letter to the his fan club, known as the Einstein Club, in which he humbly accepts the honor of being their "patron saint" and provides them with a life motto. Written in German. A translation reads in full:

"The church demands of its saints that they be dead; for only in this way can it avoid [lit: be safe from] any unexpected surprises. You, however, have been bolder, and have chosen me - still more or less living - for your patron saint. May this whim bring you good fortune and may good humor and friendship reign in your ranks. May the grumbling and brow-furrowing of your patron saint not infect you, particularly when you are gathered together under his halo. If you need a motto, I suggest to you the following:

Seek to understand everything,
Despise no one,
Believe nothing blindly.

Greetings from your patron saint, A. Einstein."

Einstein's offered motto can be viewed as a reflection of Einstein's own code of conduct used in both his professional scientific and private life. He was clearly quite delighted with his fan club, and his enthusiasm may humorously be held in contrast to Groucho Marx's famous quote: "I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” The letter has been mounted to thick cardstock, measuring 9.75" x 12" overall. With flattened mail folds, uneven toning, and some paper loss at the lower edge that does not affect any text. Light mat burn but a clear signature.

Accompanying the letter is a large black and white photograph, measuring 6.5" x 8.5", [Berlin], dated 1928. It has been mounted to thick cardstock, measuring 10" x 12" overall, and Einstein has inscribed in German to the 'Einstein-Klub' and signed "Albert Einstein 1928." Also signed by the photographer, Lotte Jacobi, below the image as "repr. Jacobi." Stamped on verso of the mount "ATELIER JACOBI / Charlottenburg". Silvering throughout, more so at the edges. Mat burn. Bold and clear signatures.
A wonderful, stoic portrait of Einstein, taken at the height of his influence in the scientific community. Lotte Jacobi (1896-1990) was arguably Einstein's favorite photographer, and she photographed him on multiple occasions throughout his life. She is responsible for one of the best-known images of the scientist, taken in his Princeton study in 1938, wearing a leather jacket. Jacobi lived in Berlin before fleeing Nazi Germany and settling in the U.S. We have traced no other examples of the image, and given that Jacobi lost her photographic archive when she fled Germany, this is possibly the only surviving example of the original photograph.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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April 14, 2021 10:30 AM EDT

Wilton, CT, US

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