A violin that once belonged to Albert Einstein will star in Bonhams’ Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts sale. The piece is valued at $100,000-200,000 ahead of the March 9 auction.
Einstein began learning the violin aged six, but only developed a passion for music when he discovered Mozart in his early teens.
In his later years he found it an aid to thought, explaining: “Life without playing music is inconceivable for me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…I get most joy in life out of music.”
It dates to 1933 and bears an inscription on the interior: “Made for the Worlds[sic] Greatest Scientist Profesior[sic] Albert Einstein By Oscar H. Steger, Feb 1933 / Harrisburg, PA”.
Steger was a carpenter and fellow musician. The date, 1933, coincides with Einstein’s arrival in the States.
Collectors are in sharp competition for Einstein memorabilia. His Longines watch sold for $596,000 in 2008, while a note bearing an optimistic, self-help message made $1.3m at auction last year.
A glass prism belonging to scientist and US founding father Benjamin Franklin will also feature. The prism can be seen as a symbol of the enlightenment.
Some of Sir Isaac Newton’s earliest experiments focused on the way light splits into colours when passed through glass.
Franklin carried out his own experiments on the subject.
He gifted this prism to fellow scientist and distant cousin Joseph Pope, a man best known for the creation of the incredible model of the solar system (known as an orrery) that still stands in Harvard’s department of philosophy.