Postcard sent by Einstein on his only trip to Palestine to be auctioned

Einstein wrote to Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin who was fundraising in the US.

By
January 7, 2015 17:01
2 minute read.
Albert Einstein postcard

Albert Einstein postcard . (photo credit: RR AUCTION)

A rare postcard with a self-portrait sketch that Albert Einstein sent to Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin during the physicist’s sole trip to Palestine in February 1923 will be put on auction in Boston later this month.

The “unique autographed note” that Einstein signed in German is on the reverse of a 3.5 x 5.5 inch postcard picturing the Red Star liner Belgenland, the private RR Auction firm announced on Wednesday. At the time, Einstein was touring Jerusalem, and he wrote it in the Beit Hakerem quarter.

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He wrote: “To my dear Mr. Ruppin, We are having unforgettable days in Palestine. With the sun shining, in cheerful company. Your wife is standing next to me and looking at what I am writing about her. She is counting the days until you come back.” Einstein’s writing is below a signed note by Ruppin’s wife, Hanna, which reads, translated from the German: “Dear Arthur, A pleasant tour of the city. Included is a picture by Prof. Einstein.”



On the front of the postcard, Einstein added a self-portrait above the image of the ship and signed it, “A. Einstein” below, together with a portrait, also in his hand, of “Frau Ruppin.”

Above the drawings, he wrote, “Jerusalem,” and “Heiligenschein,” [“halo”], with an arrow pointing to his image.

Einstein’s depiction of himself as a rotund, almost comical figure stands in stark contrast to the elegantly dressed “Frau Ruppin” with her stylish hat, shapely figure and umbrella. A light horizontal crease with a minor tear at left margin does not affect the drawings or Einstein’s note on the reverse, minor toned spot below the address line, otherwise fine condition, the gallery said.


Einstein’s only visit to Palestine lasted two weeks. He arrived in Port Said on February 1, 1923, at the invitation of Arthur Ruppin, who at the time was on an extended fund-raising tour in the US; apparently, in Ruppin’s stead, his wife, Hanna, acted as Einstein’s guide. The first day of the physicist’s official Zionist- organized tour was February 5, 1923, when the postcard and the sketch were inked.

On his visit to Beit Hakerem he was accompanied by Hanna Ruppin, Hadassah Samuel and Solomon Ginzburg. They then went to visit Haifa and Tiberius, and returned to Jerusalem, from where he departed for Port Said on February 14.

Although Einstein never again traveled to Palestine, he continued to support the promotion of Jewish settlements and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

After Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the state, died in 1952, prime minister David Ben-Gurion offered Einstein the position; Einstein declined.

Bobby Livingston, the executive vice president at RR Auction, described the postcard “an extreme rarity and although Einstein was known to accomplish drawings, signed self-portraits are virtually inaccessible. Letters written by Einstein during his singular Palestinian trip are virtually unheard of. No examples have appeared at auction for the past 40 years. And although Einstein was known to accomplish drawings, signed self-portraits are virtually inaccessible. Research indicates only three other examples, none of which have been offered publicly."


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