In this series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, a lot of eBay auctions cross the CFAA radar. After Fischer, the most frequently seen grandmaster items of yore feature Capablanca, followed by Alekhine. For some reason, Em.Lasker doesn't appear very often. The item pictured below, titled 'Emanuel Lasker World Chess Champion Signed Letter, Admits Defeat, Super Rare', was on auction for '$1,000.00 or Best Offer'. Judging by its place in the list of items by descending price, I assume it sold for exactly $1000.
The item's description explained,
The letter is written on Chicago City Club letterhead, dated and signed by Emanuel Lasker. The auction includes the newspaper article, glued to cardstock for protection, which tells of the chess exhibition, how my grandfather Robert Stephan beat Lasker, and it directly mentions the letter itself. The letter was given to my grandfather by Emanuel Lasker, for beating him in a 'hard game of chess'. I have done some research, Lasker's autograph is fairly rare. But what's very rare is him admitting defeat in a game of chess.
This letter is guaranteed 100% genuine, by me, grandson of the recipient of the letter. It has been in family since it was written by Lasker those many years ago, and has always been well taken care of. This letter is absolutely positively guaranteed 100% genuine.
My grandfather took over a game that a player gave up on. He took over the game down a Pawn and a Knight. Thats what makes it all the more amazing that my grandfather actually beat Lasker, and probably why Lasker felt compelled to write the letter. I am told there are no other letters known in which Lasker admits defeat in a game of chess.
The caption on the photo, which appeared in the Chicago Sunday Tribune on 27 April 1924, said,
Dr. Emanuel Lasker, former world's champion and winner of the recent international chess masters' tournament in New York, revisited Chicago yesterday after an interval of eighteen years and gave an exhibition at the City club. The photo shows the master with a cup of coffee by his side, playing C.N. Owen, while to Owen's right Don Levi is getting ready for the next move. Owen and Levi both got draws with Dr. Lasker. Dr. Lasker played thirty-seven simultaneous games, winning twenty-nine, drawing six, and losing two.
An accompanying article said,
Robert Stephan, a 16 year old Hyde Park high school boy, yesterday jumped into the elite of Chicago chessdom when he vanquished Dr. Emanuel Lasker, former world's champion and winner of the recent international chess masters' tournament in New York.
Dr. Lasker spent the day in Chicago and in the afternoon gave an exhibition at the City club, playing 37 games simultaneously. Stephan, a spectator, was given an opportunity of finishing one of the games when another player had to leave, and to the surprise of everyone, beat the master. [...]
After the match the former champion sent a short note to young Stephan seeking an opportunity to compliment the young man in person.
Imagine beating Lasker from a deficit of Knight and Pawn!