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Einstein-signed menu from 1930 appeal for European Jews up for auction

The menu, which H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and the second Lord Rothschild also signed, is already going for more than double its pre-auction estimate.

Albert Einstein memorial at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Photo by Menachem Wecker.
Albert Einstein memorial at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Photo by Menachem Wecker.

A menu from an Oct. 28, 1930 fundraiser to support European Jews as the Nazis rose to power, which is signed by Albert Einstein, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and the second Lord Rothschild, is already going for nearly $5,500, well above its pre-auction high estimate of some $2,300.

The rare object, which comes from a private collection, is “a symbol of unity from a time of increasing oppression for the Jewish people in the years approaching the Second World War,” according to the United Kingdom-based Lawrences Auctioneers.

The auction house is selling the menu from a dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London in its March 21 Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photography auction.

Einstein
A menu from an Oct. 28, 1930 fundraiser at the Savoy Hotel in London to support European Jews which is up for auction. Albert Einstein was among the signatories. Credit: Lawrences Auctioneers.

The menu comes from a dinner, held by the Joint British Committee of the Societies for Promoting the Economic and Physical Welfare of East-European Jewry, ORT-OZE, at which Einstein was the guest of honor.

Einstein was seated between the renowned English writer H. G. Wells and the second Lord Rothschild, who chaired the committee, at the event that drew more than 370 people, per Lawrences.

“The signatures here seem to correspond with the seating plan present on the reverse of the frame and it seems likely that it was passed along the table for each delegate to sign,” it stated.

Other signatories include the Zionist leader and British politician Sir Herbert Samuel, the Anglican bishop of Birmingham E. W. Barnes, the British journalist and politician C. P. Scott, the Jewish professor and philosopher Samuel Alexander and the British-Jewish physician Radcliffe Salaman.

The dinner raised $24,000, “which was used in providing vocational activity for the impoverished Jewish communities in Europe,” the auction house stated, citing reporting at the time in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

As George Bernard Shaw announced on the 2nd November in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency newspaper, the dinner was a great success and raised $24,000 which was used in providing vocational activity for the impoverished Jewish communities in Europe.

In October 1930, $24,000 had similar purchasing power to $448,606.55 in January 2024, per an inflation calculator on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Einstein
A menu from an Oct. 28, 1930 fundraiser at the Savoy Hotel in London to support European Jews which is up for auction. Albert Einstein was among the signatories. Credit: Lawrences Auctioneers.

Einstein spoke in German—which was translated live into English—about “the plight of the Jewish communities scattered throughout the world” at the event, adding that “We should not have survived as a community all the centuries if we had a bed of roses. Of that I am strongly convinced,” per Lawrences.

George Bernard Shaw toasted Einstein at the dinner. “Within the last month or so, there has come to me, and come to many of you, our visitor’s profession of faith, his creed,” the renowned Irish playwright said. “And that has interested me very much because I must confess to you that there is not a single creed of an established church on earth at present I can subscribe to. But to our visitor’s creed I can subscribe to every single item.”

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