Stephen Hawking’s last known autograph before his ALS rendered him unable to hold a pen is heading to auction on May 26 at Nate D Sanders.
The book, titled ‘The Archaeology of the Industrial Revolution’ by Brian Bracegirdle, was given as a gift to a computer programmer leaving his role at Cambridge University in 1973.
It’s signed by a number of his friends in the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, including Hawking himself and is expected to sell for somewhere in excess of $28,000.
Hawking was at a key juncture in his life and career when he signed here. He was just beginning his explorations into quantum mechanics. He had also just co-authored his first book, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.
Hawking was also in the grip of his disease. By the end of the 1970s, he was unable to communicate verbally with anyone bar his close friends and family.
This is the only autograph Stephen Hawking signed in pen we’ve seen come to auction. In the years after his condition worsened (and his fame grew), Hawking would often sign with a fingerprint dipped in ink. These are much more common, typically selling for around $400-500.
This specimen last sold for $50,000 in 2015. Given the phenomenal rarity of this work and in light of Hawking’s recent death, it could easily double that result.
The rest of the sale features some fascinating pieces, including a pair of US flags that hung in the Oval Office during President Dwight D Eisenhower’s tenure.