Albert Einstein collectibles



2015-06-26 11:13:22

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a German-born Swiss-United States scientist, regarded as being the most famous scientist of the 20th century.

The most famous aspect of Einstein’s legacy is his "special theory of relativity," a groundbreaking notion which laid the foundation for much of modern physics theory (including his famous equation e=mc²).

According to market analysis, Einstein's autograph has risen in value by 252.9% (from an average price of £1,750 to £6,000) over the last 10 years.


Albert Einstein was born to a Jewish family in Germany, and grew up in Munich. In 1894, he moved to Aarau, Switzerland, and later attended a technical school in Zürich. He graduated in 1900. Around this time, Einstein renounced his German citizenship, later becoming a Swiss citizen in 1901.

It was in 1905, while working as a clerk in a Swiss patent office, that Einstein published a paper proposing his "special theory of relativity.”The paper won him worldwide fame, one of four articles he that year: on Brownian motion; the photoelectric effect; and two on his special theory of relativity (one including his famous e=mc² equation).

Einstein’s renown led to him holding various professorships before becoming director of Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in 1913. His general theory of relativity was published in 1915, and he later received a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his work on the photoelectric effect. (His work on relativity was still controversial at this time).

His theories of relativity and gravitation were a profound advancement on Newtonian physics. When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1934, Einstein resigned from his position at the Prussian Academy and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, United States. There he joined the Institute for Advanced Study.

In 1939, Einstein was instrumental in persuading President Franklin Roosevelt to begin the production of an atomic bomb, dubbed the Manhattan Project. His own theories furthered the development of the bomb – though Einstein didn’t work on it himself – and was key in producing the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1940 while retaining his Swiss citizenship, and later declined an offer to become the first prime minister of Israel. He died in April 18, 1955, in Princeton, United States.

Notable collectibles

Photograph (with inscription)

A famous photograph of Einstein and his tongue sticking out was sold by RR Auctions for $74,000 in 2009. Said the auction house’s Head of PR, Bobby Livingstone: "When we had the German inscription translated, it explained his intentions for the photo which was basically freedom of expression."

Signed manuscripts

Manuscripts containing a revealing account by Einstein’s efforts to generalise his post-Newtonian General Theory of Relativity – considered to be among the most important Einstein documents to have appeared on the market – appeared at Christie’s on 22nd June, 2010. It sold for $578,500.

Related to Einstein’s involvement in the nuclear bomb, in 2010 Heritage Auction Galleries' sold a signed and typed letter from 1952, written by Einstein to scientist and author Kenneth Heuer. It included the following:

"About the technical development in the field of atomic energy: I was not interested in that matter for years but rather disgusted by the course it has taken in the hands of short-sighted politicians… To me it is enough to know that the continuation of the existence of human beings is in serious doubt if no supra-national solution can be achieved."

The letter sold for a final price of $11,950 in Dallas, Texas.

Unique collectibles

X-rays of Einstein’s skull went under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions in 2010 with an estimated price of $1,000-2,000. In the end, the X-rays sold for $38,035.

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