First offprint of Einstein’s Anniversary Lecture on the General Theory of Relativity, 1921


Albert Einstein: Geometrie und Erfahrung. [Geometry and Experience.] Sonderabdruck [Offprint]). Berlin: 1921.

Albert Einstein: Geometrie und Erfahrung. [Geometry and Experience.] Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, V (1921). Öffentliche Sitzung zur Feier des Jahrestages König Friedrich II. [Public Lecture on the occasion of the anniversary of King Frederick II.]. Sonderabdruck [Offprint]). Berlin: Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften (in commission at Walter de Gruyter [Reichsdruckerei]), 3rd February 1921.

Imperial 8vo (25,4:18,2 cm). 8 pages. Letterpress on machine paper, in original publisher’s brochure on orange stock with black title printing.

First offprint in the original wrappers, of Einstein's Celebratory Lecture given at the Prussian Academy on the occasion of the anniversary of King Frederick II, it's founder.

Edition: Given in the year when he was awarded the Nobel Prize Einstein in this lecture summarised his views on the geometrization of physics. According to Pais Einstein in present lecture in particular explained why in 1912 he had abandoned Euclidean geometry in favour of Riemannian to proceed successfully with his theory of general relativity.

Furthermore Einstein in this lecture presented his view on the place of mathematics in physics. He questioned whether human reasoning, even without direct experience, could lead to an understanding of the properties of real things merely through thought. Regarding the question of why mathematics should be so well adapted to describing the physical world, he concluded, 'As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.'

Condition: Mint, very probably unread.

Rarity: Very rare. According to Weil early offprints of Einstein’s papers may also be qualified as original and also highly collectable editions, however they were printed in a certain, but still small print run for commercial use (mainly to sell them to fellow natural scientists): „No doubt, the first appearance in a periodical is the „original edition“, but I have to leave it open for collectors, librarians and others to decide whether these offprints in wrappers, mostly with a printed title on them (especially in the »Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften«) are also „original editions“. These offprints are printed from the same setting as the text, but often with new pagination.“ (p. 4) As of March 2nd 2024 no other copy of this offprint is for sale.

Reference: Reference: Boni, N.: A bibliographical checklist and index to the published writings of Albert Einstein, 136; The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Volume 7, 52 (also referred to as Einstein 1921b); Shields, M. C.: Bibliographie der Schriften Einsteins. In: Schilpp, P. A.: Albert Einstein als Philosoph und Naturforscher, 122; Weil, E.: Albert Einstein. A bibliography of his scientific papers, 1901-1930, 114; Pais, A.: Subtle is the Lord. The Science and Life of Albert Einstein (2005 ed.), p. 214.


Additional information

Weight 1 kg