Albert Einstein inscribed Bible has mere $2,000 estimate

An Albert Einstein signed and inscribed Bible is coming to auction at Bonhams' Fine Books & Manuscripts sale in New York on June 25.

Signed in 1932 by Einstein, and his wife, Elsa, it adds further intrigue to the debate on Einstein's religious beliefs.

Einstein inscribed Bible
Einstein’s view on the Bible had changed by the 1950s

In the inscription to their American friend, Harriet Hamilton, Einstein states that he has found the Bible a source of "inexhaustible wisdom".

The letter reveals the striking change in Einstein's attitude to "the good book" over the course of his life, possibly a direct result of the Holocaust.

Certainly by 1954 Einstein was expressing a wholly different view, stating in a letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind that the Bible was a "collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish", adding that God is "nothing more than the expression of human weaknesses".

That letter appeared on eBay and achieved $3m last year, according to the io9 website. This figure has not since been verified. It previously auctioned for £170,000 ($266,500) in 2008 with Bloomsbury Auctions.

Einstein is perennially popular with collectors, suggesting that the $2,000 top estimate is highly conservative, especially considering the illuminating subject matter.

"Any opinion expressed by Einstein on the Bible is of intense interest," commented Bonhams New York's director of fine books and manuscripts, Christina Geiger.

"Although it is well-known that Einstein went through a devout phase as a young child, he never subscribed to organized religion as an adult. This Bible offers a fascinating window to his sentiments in the early 1930s."

Earlier this month an impression of Einstein's handprints sold for $85,000 at Sotheby's, while correspondence between the theoretical physicist and socialist philosopher Corliss Lamont made £7,686 ($11,661) at PFC Auctions in February.

The sale will also feature an original Apple sign from Apple Computers' office. It has a $10,000 high valuation. A first edition of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit has an $18,000 high estimate.

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