Bible inscribed by Albert Einstein up for auction at Bonhams New York

25 Jun 2013, Fine Books and Manuscipts
Fine Books & Manuscripts

NEW YORK — Bonhams will offer a Bible inscribed and signed by Albert Einstein in which he refers to the book as a source of "inexhaustible wisdom" (est. $1,500-2,500). Featured in the June 25 Fine Books & Manuscripts auction at the Madison Avenue salesroom, the Bible was also signed by Einstein's wife, Elsa, in 1932, as a gift to their American friend, Harriet Hamilton.

The inscription, in which Einstein advises that the Bible is a source of wisdom and consolation that deserves frequent reading, is written in German on the book's front free endpaper. The comforting, humanist sentiment is rather a surprise: while he resisted being labeled an atheist during his lifetime, Einstein is better known for other views; in a letter to the philosopher Eric Gutkind in 1954, he referred to the Bible as a collection of primitive legends – an opinion likely shaped by the horrors of the Holocaust.

"Any opinion expressed by Einstein on the Bible is of intense interest," explained Christina Geiger, the Director of the Fine Books & Manuscripts Department at Bonhams New York. "Although it is well-known that Einstein went through a devout phase as a young child, he never subscribed to organized religion as an adult. This Bible offers a fascinating window to his sentiments in the early 1930s."

Filled with rarities, the June 25 auction also features an original Apple® Computers exterior office sign (est. $7,000-10,000). Standing over four feet high, the foam and vinyl sign of the iconic rainbow logo was removed from Apple's® Cupertino corporate headquarters and given to a longtime employee in 1997. Steve Jobs gave his personal seal of approval to the logo, saying he appreciated the simplicity of the apple and felt the use of the colors "humanized" the company.

Another delightful pop-culture highlight on offer is a first edition of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit (est. $12,000-18,000). It is one of an original print run of 1,500 copies published in September of 1937. By December of that year, The Hobbit had completely sold out. Tolkien's publishers prompted him to write more books set in Middle Earth as a result, laying the groundwork for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Bonhams Fine Books & Manuscripts auction will take place on June 25 in New York. The auction will preview at Bonhams New York June 21-25.

A fully illustrated catalog is available at www.bonhams.com/auctions/20981


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com