Our Current Auction is Closed

Home |Sitemap|Contact Us| Past Auctions  
 How to Bid   Register to Bid   Auctions   Consign   About Us   Featured Lots 
If you don't have a Bidder Number, register now to bid!
back button
Item   Title MB Now at Next bid Bids New bid Max bid  
6001   1924 Nobel Prize for Physics Awarded to Manne Siegbahn  $10000   PASSED
Prices/Bids do not include buyer's premium
click to enlarge
Mouse Over to Zoom/Click to Enlarge

#6001 - 1924 Nobel Prize for Physics Awarded to Manne Siegbahn Estimate: $150,000+

The 1924 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to Manne Siegbahn for his discoveries and research in X-ray spectroscopy

Bid live on www.Invaluable.com at 6 PM EST on December 13th.

The 1924 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Swedish physicist Karl Manne Georg Siegbahn, ‘for his discoveries and research in the field of X-ray spectroscopy.’ Includes the iconic Nobel Prize medal housed in its red leather case, and beautiful hand-illuminated diploma in its ornate blue morocco leather folder. This was an uncommon ‘reserved’ prize from 1924, presented to Siegbahn by the Nobel Foundation in 1925. In 1924, the Nobel Committee for Physics had decided that none of the nominees for the award met the criteria outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel, and subsequently granted the open prize to Siegbahn in the following year.

The medal, designed by Erik Lindberg and struck in 23K gold by the Swedish Royal Mint, measures 66 mm in diameter, and weighs 205 gm. The obverse features a bust portrait of Alfred Nobel facing left, inscribed with his name in relief, “Alfr. Nobel,” as well as his birth and death dates of 1833 and 1896, “Nat. MDCCCXXXIII, Ob. MDCCCXCVI.” Engraved in the lower left with the artist’s name and date, “E. Lindberg, 1902.” The reverse features an allegorical vignette of the figure of Science unveiling the face of Nature, with the Latin legend in relief above, “Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes.” The tablet at the bottom is engraved with the recipient’s name and date, “M. Siegbahn, MCMXXV.” The edge of the medal is marked “Guld 1925.” Housed in a dark red morocco leather case decorated with gilt dentelles.

The hand-illuminated diploma, executed by Swedish sculptor and artist Sofia Ginsberg, is on two vellum leaves housed inside a gorgeous blue morocco gilt folder. The text, in Swedish, reads (translated): “The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, at its meeting on November 12, 1925, in accordance with the provisions of the will of Alfred Nobel dated 27 November 1895, decided that the prize for 1924 be given away to that person who, within the field of physics, has made the most important discovery or invention: Karl Manne Georg Siegbahn for his Rontgen spectroscopic discoveries and research, Stockholm, 10 December 1925.” Signed at the conclusion by Nobel laureate Allvar Gullstrand as chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics, and by Henrik Gustaf Söderbaum as secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Also signed in the lower left corner by the artist, Sofia Ginsberg. The beautiful pages are decorated with hand-drawn borders of green foliage incorporating gold medals; the ornate blue morocco leather folder is elaborately decorated with gilt dentelles with a wreath monogram centerpiece on the cover. Housed in a custom-made blue clamshell box. In overall fine condition.


Born in Örebro, Sweden, in 1886, Manne Siegbahn studied under Johannes Rydberg at Lund University, obtaining his doctorate in 1911 with a thesis on magnetic field measurements. He became acting professor at Lund University when Rydberg fell ill in 1913, and succeeded him as a full professor in 1920. Siegbahn’s studies in X-ray spectroscopy began in 1914, and he quickly improved upon Henry Moseley’s experimental apparatus which allowed him to take precise measurements of the X-ray wavelengths produced by atoms of different elements. Over the course of the next decade, Siegbahn’s development of new methods and designs had increased the accuracy of X-ray spectrometers by a factor of nearly 1000. Moreover, his studies led to a complete understanding of the electron shell, and produced a great deal of new knowledge about the elements themselves. In nominating Siegbahn for the Nobel Prize, fellow laureate Max von Laue had stressed that it was Siegbahn who had measured the wavelengths in the Rontgen spectrum with such precision that the scheme of Niels Bohr’s atomic theory could be used with full confidence—and Bohr had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922.

In Siegbahn’s Nobel Lecture, delivered on December 11, 1925, he eloquently recognized the broad importance of X-rays—just as they can reveal the human structure in medicine, they can reveal the inner workings of the atom in physics: ‘We all know that the discovery of X-rays provided the medical sciences with a new and invaluable working tool; and we must all be equally aware that recent developments in the study of X-rays have opened up new paths of investigation in various fields of natural sciences…The study of X-rays is not, however, motivated only by their application in the various sciences…X-rays provide us in addition with an insight into the phenomena within the bounds of the atom. All the information on what goes on in this field of physical phenomena is, so to speak, transmitted in the language of the X-rays; it is a language which we must master.’ Siegbahn's work drove many developments in quantum theory and atomic physics, laying the foundation for future Nobel Prizes—his son, Kai Siegbahn, built upon his efforts and made major strides in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, receiving the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics ’for his contribution to the development of high-resolution electron spectroscopy.’


In 1888, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel—famed as the inventor of dynamite—was shocked to read his own obituary in a French newspaper: ’The Merchant of Death is Dead,’ the headline read, ‘Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.’ It was a case of mistaken identity, his brother Ludvig having actually passed. Given this rare opportunity to witness the way he would be remembered, Nobel resolved to change his legacy. He secretly rewrote his will, directing his fortune toward the establishment of annual prizes to be granted to ‘those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind’ in the realms of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. He directed that the prizes for physics and chemistry be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and expressly wished for there to be ‘no consideration be given to nationality, but that the prize be awarded to the worthiest person.’ In cases where none of the nominees are found to have produced a work of truly ’outstanding importance,’ the prize may be reserved until the following year—this is how Siegbahn, as a first-time nominee in 1925, received the prize for 1924.

Alfred Nobel succeeded in redefining his legacy—today, the Nobel Prize is recognized around the world as one of humanity’s highest honors. This remarkable medal for the Nobel Prize in Physics, with its gorgeous hand-painted diploma, represents a most significant achievement in the world of science. To our knowledge, it is the earliest Nobel Prize in Physics ever to be offered at auction.

Bid live on www.Invaluable.com at 6 PM EST on December 13th.

back button
Help links  
Learn more about our autograph authentication experts...
click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge
Buyer's Premium   The Bidder acknowledges and agrees that a 22.5% buyer’s premium will be added to the hammer price on all individual Timed Auction lots. For additional information view our complete terms and conditions.
Your bid is a contract  Placing a bid online means you agree to abide by the terms and conditions listed by RRAuction.
Payment methods accepted  Money Order, Cashier's Check, Personal Check, or Wire Transfer.
Payment for items won in auction 554 is due by Tuesday, December 25th unless prior arrangements have been made. Late payment may result in suspension of your bidding privileges.
Condition An item’s general condition is rated on an ascending scale of 1 to 4: good, very good, fine, very fine. Additional specific details that would not be obvious from the illustration, if any, are mentioned in the description.
Further descriptions You can call us or email us if you'd like us to answer questions about these items.