News | May 9, 2024

Four Autograph Letters from Albert Einstein to Mathematics Colleague to Auction

Stockholms Auktionsverk

The Einstein letters and envelopes

Correspondence between mathematics colleagues Albert Einstein and Herman Müntz will be up for auction at the Books, Maps & Manuscripts auction on June 13 at Stockholms Auktionsverk

The four autograph letters, two in their original envelopes, are neatly written in ink, dated 1928 and 1929, and signed by A. Einstein. Among other equations, the sender proposes the' Fern-Parallelismus' as part of his ‘unified field theory’ that was then submitted to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in August of 1929.

“What makes these letters truly fascinating and interesting is their scientific significance," said Katharina Fahlstedt, Chief Curator of Books, Maps and Manuscripts at Stockholm Auktionsverk. "They contain mathematical calculations presented in an easily readable manner, indicating Einstein’s desire to engage Müntz in a discussion. He not only explains his concepts but delves into the mathematical challenges they pose. This intellectual depth gives the letters their weight, making them more than just polite greetings from Albert Einstein. They are actual scientific documents."

The Polish-German mathematician Herman Müntz (1884-1956) was active in Berlin and Munich, born in what was then Russia. He worked closely with Einstein in 1927. Two years later, he was appointed professor at the University of Leningrad, where he taught until 1937, when – as a German citizen – he was deported and moved to Sweden. He then stayed in Sweden for the remainder of his life. Müntz continued to work closely with Albert Einstein, and his help was recognized in several of his published papers and articles. The historical context of their correspondence, set against the backdrop of political upheaval and scientific progress, adds a significant layer to these letters.

Einstein rarely kept his early calculations and unfinished working papers, so it is rare for four letters to be offered on the market at the same time. Therefore, they will be sold together with an estimate of 500,000 SEK ($46,000).

“While Einstein letters are more common on the American auction market, they are rare in the Swedish market. I have personally not seen many of them in my years in the business. But these letters come from a Swedish private collection, which is also a bit remarkable. It will be exciting to see what kind of interest they attract,” added Fahlstedt.