A rare Albert Einstein postcard note that includes a self-portrait, sketched during his only visit to British Mandatory Palestine is to feature at an auction in the United States later this month.
The unique autographed note is signed in German on the reverse of a postcard picturing the Red Star Liner Belgenland, near Jerusalem and dated 5 February 1923.
Einstein writes to Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin: “We are having unforgettable days in Palestine. With the sun shining, in cheerful company. Your wife is standing next to me and looking at what I am writing about her.”
Einstein’s writing is below the signed note by Ruppin’s wife, Hanna, which reads: “A pleasant tour of the city. Included is a picture by Prof. Einstein.”
On the front of the postcard, Einstein has added a self-portrait above the image of the ship and signed it, “A. Einstein” below, together with a portrait, also in his hand, of “Frau Ruppin.”
Above the drawings, he added, “Jerusalem,” and “Heiligenschein,” [halo] with an arrow pointing to his image. Einstein’s depiction of himself as a rotund, almost comical figure stands in stark contrast to the elegantly dressed “Frau Ruppin” with her stylish hat, shapely figure and umbrella.
Einstein’s only visit to British Mandatory Palestine lasted two weeks. The first day of the physicist’s official Zionist-organised tour was 5 February, when the note and sketch was created.
The professor’s first visit that day was to the West Jerusalem suburb of Beth Hakerem. His tour continued with visits to Haifa and Tiberias and ended in Jerusalem where he departed for Port Said on 14 February 14.
Bobby Livingston, from RR Auction House in Boston, where the postcard will be sold, said: “This is an extreme rarity. Although Einstein was known to be accomplished at drawings, signed self-portraits are virtually unknown.”