Those looking for a special present this holiday season, and who have $65,000 to spare, might consider a unique item that has recently become available: a never-before-seen quotation from the great Albert Einstein, written and signed by the famous scientist himself in 1931.
The item in question is a small card with the words “The greatest value of knowledge lies in knowledge itself,” written in German, with Einstein’s signature and the date.
The piece is offered for sale online by the Raab Collection, a Philadelphia-based private house specializing in historical documents and letters.
The Raab Collection has several other items in Einstein’s hand currently for sale, along with written materials from other historical personages such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, Theodore Herzl and even Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1931 Einstein was already a lauded scientist, who was still based in Germany. He emigrated to the US in 1933 after the Nazis came to power, but in 1931 visited Oxford and Pasadena, California, where he was a visiting scholar at CalTech and famously hung out in Hollywood with the likes of Charlie Chaplin.
The item for sale “almost certainly came from an album leaf or small sheet of paper obtained by the original recipient. Einstein was known to write sentiments to people he met, though we have never seen this quotation, nor have leading Einstein scholars,” Raab Collection president Nathan Raab told the Times of Israel in an email correspondence.
The card was obtained from a “prominent California private collection” where it had been for at least a generation, and was authenticated through “a complex process involving knowledge of ink, paper, pen, historical context, further research, and, above all else, experience,” Raab said.
In 1934, Einstein’s autobiography ”The World As I See It” was published, in which he expressed a similar sentiment and tied it in with his Jewish background: “The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice and the desire for personal independence – these are the features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it.”