Robert Temple - Author of The Sphinx Mystery
Moritz Mond (1811-1891) and his wife Henrietta Levinsohn
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Robert Mond (left) 1880s.
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The bookplate of my cousin

Sir Robert Mond
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Moritz Mond of Kassel in Germany, the younger brother of my great-great-grandfather Adam Mond, with his wife Henrietta Levinsohn. Adam and Moritz had different mothers, but the same father. Adam Mond (born March 18, 1807, at Kassel, of whom no photo survives) was the elder son of Meyer Mond by his second wife, whose name is not preserved. His step-mother Zerlina Weinberg was decades younger than his father, who died in 1820 when Adam was only 13, and she naturally favoured her own son, shown here, over Adam. Adam was thus an orphan who seems to have been farmed out to live with the Levinsohn family, whose daughter later married his younger half-brother (seen in the photo), and he seems to have lived with them for the rest of his teens. He rebelled against the Jewish tradition by falling in love with a Christian girl, Catherine Emmert (see her photo as an old woman). He and Catherine married, against the opposition of both of their families, and left the Old World behind to move to America, where they could start a new life together free of religious intolerance. Since Adam was considered ‘dead’ by his family for marrying a Christian, he dropped the surname of Mond and adopted instead the maiden name of Mrs. Levinsohn, which was Müller, which he Americanised to Miller. (It is thought that Adam’s own mother had been of this same Müller family, perhaps the older sister of Eva Levinsohn, and that that was the real reason for Meyer Mond later marrying their daughter, who would have been his rich cousin and a good match.) Eva Levinsohn’s daughter Frederika Levinsohn also married and moved to America, though her married name and later fate are unknown. She probably encouraged Adam to do the same. Perhaps she too married a Christian and had to get away. Adam ‘Miller’ abandoned the Jewish faith altogether, and his children were brought up in America as Christian Protestants. They moved first to New York, where their eldest child was my great-grandfather, Joseph W. Miller, born September 12, 1835, at New York. By the time the second child was born, the family had moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where it was necessary to disguise any Jewish antecedents, owing to the intense anti-Semitism in that city, which had the highest proportion of German immigrants of any American metropolis.

A family group photo of my Mond cousins (right), taken in the 1880s in England. The young man at the left is the single blood relation with whom I have the most in common, Robert Mond, my second cousin twice removed (i.e., my grandmother’s second cousin). He was later knighted as Sir Robert Mond, LLD, FRS, FBA, Commander of the Legion of Honour, etc. He had little interest in the family business, which he left to his younger brother, sitting beside him with his arms folded. Having inherited a fortune, Robert Mond set about making good use of it. He became an Egyptologist, and he financed and led several archaeological expeditions to Egypt. He became the chief patron of Sir Flinders Petrie, who is my own favourite Egyptologist. I had no idea until after I had already abridged Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough myself as The Illustrated Golden Bough, that Robert Mond was also Frazer’s patron, and kept him going financially during the years when he was writing The Golden Bough. Robert Mond was also the founder and first President of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, and he founded and funded its now-famous scholarly journal, Ambix, to which he wrote the first contribution in Volume One, Number One, in May, 1937. Robert lived in Berkeley Square in London, though I do not know in which house. He married twice, but no Monds are descended from him, as he had daughters but no son. None of the cousins whom I know has ever been able to give me any idea of what happened to all his books and papers. He died in Paris on October 22, 1938. The National Portrait Gallery in London has a bronze statuette of Robert. All I have of his is a single book from his personal library, with his grand armorial bookplate in the front, but no signature. Well, that’s not strictly true. I do have one other thing of his: our common interests.

The old house in Kassel, Germany
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The old house in Kassel, Germany, which belonged to the Levinsohn family, and where my great-great-grandfather Adam Mond is believed to have lived after the death of his father, when he was orphaned at age 13 and left with only a step-mother who preferred her own son. He later changed his surname to that of Mrs. Levinsohn, which was Müller, and which he Americanised to Miller when he emigrated to the United States. His own mother is thought to have been a Müller, and to have been the sister of Mrs. Levinsohn.


© Robert Temple 2009-2022