City hosts rare auction of letter written by Marx

2014-08-10 00:00:00

A LETTER written by Karl Marx is being auctioned in Shanghai this month, the first time his correspondence has gone under the hammer on China’s mainland.

It is being offered at the Jianguo Hotel on July 21 on behalf of a Shanghai collector who admires the German philosopher whose works inspired the foundation of socialist countries, including China.

The collector exchanged an ancient Chinese painting for the letter three years ago, said a spokesman for auctioneers the Shanghai Hosane Auction Co.

Its reserve price has yet to be made public, but Hosane said the item is very rare as it has been almost 40 years since a letter by Marx has been sold at open auction anywhere in the world.

According to a recent sales record, a page of the manuscript of Marx’s critique of capitalism “Das Kapital” was priced at 2.5 million euros (US$3.4 million), the Hosane spokesman said. It did not say if it was sold.

The letter to be auctioned in Shanghai was written by Marx in Manchester, in England, to a friend on May 28, 1869.

In it, Marx says that he wants to know how his theories had been received by people in Russia.

This is probably because he was working on a revised German edition and the first Russian edition of “Das Kapital” at that time, said Guo Meng from Hosane’s paper collectibles department.

“Das Kapital” was published in Germany in 1867 and the revised edition and first Russian edition came out in 1872.

“The letter was written right between these dates,” said Guo.

Hosane has not verified the identity of the recipient of the letter that includes Marx’s signature and address.

Guo said the auction house had confirmed the letter is genuine through comparing it with other Marx letters.

Marx died in 1883 at the age of 65.

In China, the study of Marxism is a compulsory subject on high school and university syllabuses.

However, the Chinese authorities have only five letters of Marx, Guo said.

Two-thirds of Marx’s manuscripts and letters are in the International Institute of Social History in the Netherlands, while most of the rest are in an archive in Russia.

“There are few manuscripts and letters of Marx to be found anywhere else, thus making them very rare and precious,” Guo said.

“Though the letter is not very long, it is embedded with rich historical meaning and the spirit of a great figure.”