A card signed by Albert Einstein when on board the SS Belgenland is up for auction at RR Auctions in Boston.
Unique ANS in German signed, “A Einstein” on the reverse of a 3.5 x 5.5 postcard picturing the Red Star Liner Belgenland, [near Jerusalem, c. February 5, 1923]. Einstein writes to Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin, in full (translated): “To my dear Mr. Ruppin, We are having unforgettable days in Palestine. With the sun shining, in cheerful company. Your wife is standing next to me and looking at what I am writing about her. She is counting the days until you come back.” Einstein’s writing is below an ANS by Ruppin’s wife, Hanna, which reads in full (translated): “Dear Arthur, A pleasant tour of the city. Included is a picture by Prof. Einstein.” On the front of the postcard, Einstein has added a delightful self-portrait above the image of the ship and signed it, “A. Einstein” below, together with a portrait, also in his hand, of “Frau Ruppin.” Above the drawings, he added, “Jerusalem,” and “Heiligenschein,” [halo], with an arrow pointing to his image. Einstein’s depiction of himself as a rotund, almost comical figure stands in stark contrast to the elegantly dressed “Frau Ruppin” with her stylish hat, shapely figure and umbrella. Light horizontal crease with a minor tear at left margin does not affect the drawings or Einstein’s note on the reverse, minor toned spot below the address line, otherwise fine condition.
Einstein’s only visit to Palestine lasted two weeks. He arrived in Port Said on February 1, 1923, at the invitation of early Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin, who at the time was on an extended fundraising tour in the United States; apparently, in Mr. Ruppin’s stead his wife Hanna, acted as Professor Einstein’s guide. The first day of the physicist’s official Zionist-organized tour was February 5, 1923, when the here-offered ANS and sketch was accomplished. The professor’s first visit that morning was to the West Jerusalem suburb of Beth Hakerem, accompanied by Hanna Ruppin and Hadassah Samuel and Solomon Ginzburg. His tour continued with visits to Haifa and Tiberious, and ended in Jerusalem where he departed for Port Said on February 14, 1923.
Although Einstein would never again travel to Palestine, he continued to support the promotion of Jewish settlements and the Hebrew University.
Albert Einstein with the captain of the Belgenland II, 1930
The physicist was a regular on the Red Star Line, travelling between Berlin and the US. He was on the Belgenland II, heading from New York to Antwerp in 1933, when he heard that the Nazis had come to power in Germany. The resignation letter he wrote to the Prussian Academy of Sciences while on the ship – on Red Star Line stationery – is on display at the museum. In October 1933, after a few months in Antwerp, he made his final departure to America from Southampton on the Westernland.
The Red Star Line employed the leading companies of the day to print and publish their postcards. By 1900 the finest images were being printed using the process of chromolithography and all the early RSL sets were produced by this method.
The list of printers of the RSL art cards is impressive :-
- O.de Rycker Brussels
- O.de Rycker & Mendel Brussels
- Dietrich & Co Brussels
- Fritz Schneller Nurnberg
- J.E.Buschmann Antwerp
- Muhlmeister & Johler Hamburg
- E.Stockmans & Co. Antwerp
- J.L.Goffart Brussels
- American Litho Co. New York
- J.E.Goossens Brussels
The majority of the Cassiers cards came from two of these. Dietrich were responsible for his watercolours of landscapes, coastal scenes and city scenes while his graphic art nouveau seascapes, for which he was most famous, were printed by de Rycker & Mendel.
To be included in this list a liner of the RSL must have been featured on an official RSL art postcard set. A number of the sets showed a generic liner of the Vaderland class. Many RSL photographic cards showed named liners as did some non-RSL cards.
- 1883-1912 Westernland
- 1884-1908 Noordland
- 1889-1911 Friesland
- 1895-1903 Kensington
- 1895-1903 Southwark
- 1900-1914 Vaderland II
- 1901-1914 & 1920-1927 Zeeland II
- 1902-1914 & 1919– 1923 Finland
- 1902-1914 & 1920-1923 Kroonland
- 1906-1914 (1919-1931 freight) Samland
- 1908-1914 & 1920-1932 Lapland
- 1908-1932 Lapland
- 1923-1935 Belgenland II
- 1926-1929 Arabic
- 1926-1935 Pennland II
- 1930-1935 Westernland II
- 1932-1933 Minnetonka (Tourist ship)
- 1932-1933 Minnewaska (Tourist ship)
The first two groups were painted by Henri Cassiers and the third group appear on cards painted by Charles Dixon.