THE EARLIEST KNOWN SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF EINSTEIN. Inscribed on the verso to his life-long friend Albert Karr-Karusi: “Meinem l[ieben] Albert | Dein Albert” ["To my dear Albert | Your Albert"].
Taken while Einstein was attending the gymnasium in Aarau, Switzerland, where he finished his secondary schooling prior to his enrollment in the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich. Having previously dropped out of secondary school in Germany, Einstein attempted to gain entry to the Polytechnic in 1895. But while he scored high in mathematics and physics on the admission tests, his general educational level was thought wanting; and on advice of the Polytechnic’s principal, Einstein went to finish his secondary schooling in Aarau.
Einstein was 16 or 17 years old at the time of this photograph. The present image is very possibly a photograph taken to commemorate Einstein’s graduation, and was undoubtedly given and inscribed to Albert Karr as a memento of camaraderie (in the manner that high school students now sign yearbook pictures for their friends). The Einstein archives in Jerusalem do not show record of any earlier known signed photographs, and we have been unable to otherwise trace any earlier known signed images.
C.1896. Carte de Visite format (6.5 X 10.5 cm) on card stock. In outstanding condition. A remarkable survival: all signed images and autographs from Einstein’s early years are of extreme rarity.