Lot #498
Gregor Mendel

Exceedingly rare document from the ‘father of modern genetics,’ maintaining the finances of the monastery that held his lifetime of studies
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Exceedingly rare document from the ‘father of modern genetics,’ maintaining the finances of the monastery that held his lifetime of studies

Rare autograph DS in German, signed “Gr. Mendel,” one page, 8.25 x 13.5, September 1, 1881. Receipt for 63 fl. “which the undersigning monastery has received in cash from the interest on the foundation capital of 1,200 fl. insured through the Pernstein estate.” Document bears the ink stamp of the Augustinian monastery of St. Thomas in Brno, two affixed revenue stamps, and a few period notations. In fine to very fine condition, with central vertical and horizontal folds.

When the young Johann Mendel entered the Augustinian St. Thomas’s Abbey in Brno in the early 1840s, he commenced his training as a priest, taking the name Gregor and securing himself an education that would have otherwise been financially unattainable. Fascinated with heredity, he began studying mice, but at the behest of his bishop (who did not like the idea of his monks studying animal sex), quickly switched to plants. Conducting his studies in the monastery’s five-acre experimental garden, he spent nearly two decades working with peas before developing his Law of Segregation and Law of Independent Assortment—which would later become Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance.

Though his findings made little impact at the time of publication (1866), they would resurface 35 years later to become one of the biggest contributions to the emerging field of genetics. Becoming abbot of the monastery in 1868, Mendel left his scientific work behind to handle a lengthy dispute with the government regarding special taxes on religious institutions. Following his death, the succeeding abbot burned all papers in Mendel's collection to mark an end to the financial troubles, making autographed material by the groundbreaking scientist nearly impossible to come by. This is the first Mendel we have every offered. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Rare Manuscript, Document & Autograph
  • Dates: October 25 - November 13

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA DNA Precertified Letter
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