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Lot #3027
Charles Darwin: First Edition of On the Origin of Species

Rare first edition of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

Estimate: $100000+
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Rare first edition of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

Rare, historic, and influential first edition book: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin. First edition. London: John Murray, 1859. Hardcover with chocolate brown endpapers with binder's ticket of "Edmonds & Remnants, London" on rear endpaper, original green blindstamped cloth, lettered in gilt on spine (Binding Variant B), neatly rebacked retaining the original spine, hinges neatly repaired, slightly spotted, very slight loss at extreme inner margin of title page. Complete with endpapers, half-title, folding diagram, 502 pages, and 32 pages of inserted publisher's advertisements (dated June 1959). Book condition: VG-/None, with title page and first page of table of contents partially detached, foxing to first several pages, bumped corners, and edgewear.

There is only one issue of the first edition of On the Origin of Species (Freeman 373), the text being identical in all copies. There are however very slight differences in the binding, this copy corresponding to Variant B: the L in LONDON is over the right upright of H in JOHN; and the right upright of the second N in LONDON is well to the right of the upright of the second R in MURRAY.

Priced at fifteen shillings with a first printing of 1,250 copies, On the Origin of Species was released by publisher John Murray on November 24, 1859. The entire first printing was subscribed to immediately, leading to a second printing shortly thereafter. The book was a sensation, wildly exceeding the expectations of either Darwin or his publisher. In revised editions, Darwin made corrections and responded to critiques of his work—the most noteworthy change being the addition of an introductory epitaph acknowledging religious objections to his evolutionary theory.

Widely considered 'the most important biological book ever written,' Darwin's work introduced evolutionary thought to the masses and rightfully posited the idea of natural selection as its driving force. As significant as it is rare, the first edition of On the Origin of Species represents a cornerstone in the canon of modern science.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarities
  • Dates: #638 - Ended June 23, 2022