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Lot #8020
Albert Einstein's 1930 O'Rourke Zoological Institute Diploma

Estimate: $2000+
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Interesting honorary diploma awarded to Albert Einstein by the O'Rourke Zoological Institute in San Diego, one page mounted on wooden scroll spindles, 18.25 x 24, December 31, 1930. The text of the diploma is in Latin, and it is signed at the conclusion by the organization's officers. The gold foil seal and ribbons affixed to the lower left remain intact. Rolled and in very good to fine condition, with toning and slight chipping to edges.

On New Year's Eve, 1930, Einstein was feted at San Diego's Balboa Park, where he spoke briefly at a reception. 'I am stepping today for the first time on California soil,' he said in German, translated by his wife Elsa. 'I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find harmoniously combined the joy of life and the joy of work.'

Accompanied by a letter of provenance from the present owner, in full: "My father was employed at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton NJ as a caretaker of real estate properties owned by IAS from 1969 to 1995. Some of these properties were located on Mercer Street, Battle Road, Olden Lane, Maxwell Lane and others when these houses became vacant he would have to clean and prepare them for the next professor to move in. It was in the mid 1980's when he came home with the Zoological document made out to Albert Einstein. My father had built a shelf in our living room to display the document. After both my parents had passed on, I had to clean out their home and I kept the document."

Albert Einstein lived at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1935 until his death in 1955, while employed by the Institute for Advanced Study. His stepdaughter, the sculptor Margot Einstein, remained in the house until her death in 1986; it was presumably at this time that the house was cleaned out.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarities
  • Dates: #617 - Ended September 25, 2021