BOSTON – An important Albert Einstein handwritten manuscript will be auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction on June 13. The fully illustrated catalog can be viewed on LiveAuctioneers.
The manuscript is Einstein’s criticism of a paper in which Erich Trefftz claimed to have found a static solution of the equations of general relativity for two point masses; Einstein points out that such a conclusion is based on an error. Featuring several mathematical equations—including a modified form of his General Theory of Relativity.
The two-page manuscript in German, which is unsigned (but incorporating “Einstein” in the title), no date but circa late 1922. Headed (translated), “Comment on E. Trefftz’s Paper: ‘The Static Gravitational Field of Two Mass Points in Einstein’s Theory,'” the paper was presented on Nov. 23, 1922, to the Berlin-based Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, who published the work on Dec. 21, 1922. The present manuscript was probably a draft used for typesetting, as it contains several handwritten editor’s annotations in pencil, which were executed in the published version. This was Einstein’s first paper published after he received the Nobel Prize on Dec. 10, 1922.
Most significantly, this manuscript contains a handwritten version of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. In 1915, Einstein made his groundbreaking achievement with the introduction of the General Theory of Relativity. In 1917, Einstein applied his equations to the problem of explaining the structure of the cosmos on a large scale and found that he would need to modify his equations by adding another term, containing a constant, which he denoted λ and called “cosmological.” This cosmological constant relied on a static universe; upon the later discovery that the universe was expanding, Einstein reportedly called this the greatest blunder of his career.
It was advanced by Einstein in a 1919 paper as a candidate for a slightly modified field equation to account both for the structure of matter and for cosmological structure.
“With important content and significant date within the context of Einstein’s career—this is a remarkable piece,” said Robert Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction. The Einstein manuscript is expected to top $175,000.
Among other items to be featured is a magnificent collection of presidential autographs representing a complete set from George Washington through Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a custom-bound red leather volume (estimate: $48,000-plus).
Also offered is a Thomas Edison handwritten letter where Edison searches for a filament in Brazil. “In my endeavors to perfect the electric light and bring it into practical everyday use, a certain kind of vegetable fiber has been found necessary.” In an effort to find a suitable filament for his newly invented incandescent lamp, Edison dispatched agents worldwide—John Branner to South America in 1880-81, and James Ricalton to Asia in 1888. He hoped to find a natural fiber that could be utilized as a long-lasting filament in an electric light, and which could be brought to market in abundant quantities at a reasonable cost (estimate: $7,500-plus).
Details can be found online at www.rrauction.com.