You Don't Have to be Einstein to Know the Value of Handwritten Letters


What the modern world is missing out on

What would happen if we communicated only digitally? If everything floated through cyberspace and nothing was anchored on paper with ink? Where do those records, licenses, deeds, loans, and legal doings go if they’re only saved online and not preserved in hard copies?

It’s hard to value things in email only. And if there is ever a cyber attack, like the one that just stopped the oil pipeline, would all those documents be held for ransom? Would they disappear in a keystroke?

In a world full of computers, digital correspondence, constant texts, I am a dinosaur. I believe in handwritten letters.

Luckily, so did Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein was a letter writer

Albert Einstein was the German physicist who developed the theory of relativity and is known as one of the greatest physicists and amazing minds of all time. He was also a prolific letter writer.

In July of 2006, twenty years after the death of his stepdaughter, Margot, Einstein’s letters were released to the public through the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem.

All I knew about Einstein was in reference to his scientific prowess. Turns out that not only was Einstein a brilliant mathematician and physicist, he was a fluent writer — and a lady’s man.

Almost 3500 pages of handwritten correspondence spanning 43 years have been released to the public. The letters are mostly to his wives and children. The bulk of the missives are to Elsa, his second wife, who he wrote almost daily while he was out of town. Many letters are to his stepdaughter, Margot.

Einstein wasn’t shy about his dalliances, frequently telling his wife and stepdaughter about the women who were pursuing him. After he died, Margot even delivered a letter to a woman named Margarita, his Russian-spy-lover.

Of Women and Wanderings, Formulas and Theories

In the thousands of pages of letters that Einstein composed, we find more about his private life: he wanted to stop smoking. He liked playing music. He fell in love with his secretary…just one in a long line of romantic liaisons.

And he talked about his work, surprising the reader with this bon mot:

‘’Soon I’ll be fed up with the relativity. Even such a thing fades away when one is too involved with it…’’

He wrote about his theory of relativity and its proof to a Polish-American physicist named Ludwik Silberstein in 1946.

Luckily, somebody in Ludwik Silberstein’s family believed in the value of handwritten correspondence and saved the letter that Einstein wrote to Silberstein.

The letter is the only known example of “E=mc2” in Einstein’s own hand in private possession.

The estimated value of that single reference in Einstein’s handwritten letter when it goes up on auction?

$400,000.

If you’re interested, the bidding has started and goes on through May 20th.


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