Desirable ALS signed “Ch. Darwin,” one page, 5 x 8, Down, Beckenham, Kent letterhead, October 24. Letter to an unidentified gentleman. In full: “Pray thank Prof. Reichenbach for his great kindness. l am sorry that you & he have had to trouble; for a plant at Kew was afterwards discovered in flower & was sent to me, so that I was able to examine well the doubtful point.” In fine condition, with intersecting folds, and a few diagonal creases under signature.
When Darwin visited the seaside village of Torquay on a family vacation during the summer of 1861, he spent hours studying the variety of wild orchids along the shore, reviving his interest in insect pollination that had begun three decades prior. Upon his return to Down, he sought the help of the world’s top botanists in identifying and classifying the myriad species he had collected. He developed a strong friendship with Joseph Hooker, son of the famed director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and relied heavily upon his expertise. He also turned to Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, Professor of Botany at Leipzig, whose enormous herbarium was rivaled only by Kew’s. With their help, Darwin explored the intricacies of how different petals attracted different insects and analyzed how parts of the plants were homologous, having evolved from the same original structure to meet different functions in different species. He published Fertilisation of Orchids in 1862, which was his most detailed demonstration of the power of natural selection. An incredibly scarce and highly collectible letter from the naturalist at work. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.