Einstein’s violin is up for sale

Bonhams New York are estimating $100-150,000 for the March 9 sale of a violin that once belonged to Albert Einstein.

The maker’s inscription reads: ‘Made for the Worlds[sic] Greatest Scientist Profesior[sic] Albert Einstein By Oscar H. Steger, Feb 1933 / Harrisburg, PA.’

Steger was a cabinet maker and member of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. He made the violin for Einstein on hearing that the physicist, a passionate amateur violinist, was to be resident scholar at Princeton.

Einstein passed on the violin to Lawrence Wilson Hibbs, son of a Princeton janitor and handyman Sylas Hibbs, and it has remained in the Hibbs family ever since.

 

image: Bonhams.

 

 

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  • I can’t remember who is supposed to have said this, but it was from the 1930’s or 40’s: “We’ve got Kreisler, Heifetz, Elman and [list of other famous violinists of the time], but the only one who looks like a violinist is Einstein!”

  • To complete this story, On March 9, 2018, at Bonhams in New York, this violin given to Einstein sold for $420,000 + the buyer’s premium (25% on the first $250,000 and $20% on the remaining $170,000). A telephone bidder bought the violin.

    From the information provided by the auction gallery, it is unclear how much, if ever, Einstein played this particular violin. It looks like it was given to him, unsolicited.

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