Lot 41
  • 41

Darwin, Charles

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Darwin, Charles
  • On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray, 1859
  • printed book
8vo (7 3/4 x 5 1/4 ins.; 198 x 125 mm). 32 page publisher's catalogue at rear dated June 1859, half-title verso with quotations from "W. Whewell" and Bacon only, folding lithographic diagram by William West after Darwin; short closed tear to fore-margin of one page of the index, else an unusually tight and clean example. Original publisher's green cloth, sides stamped in blind, spine in gilt, by Edmonds and Remnants with their ticket on the lower pastedown; rear hinge starting, front hinge sound, though with some splitting to paper over hinge, short tear to cloth at bottom of upper joint, else a very bright copy with no fraying to spine ends or noticeable dulling to cloth, only faint rubbing to gilt rules on spine.


Dibner Heralds of Science 199; Heirs of Hippocrates 1724; Freeman 373; Garrison-Morton (1991) 220; Grolier Science 23b; Norman 593; PMM 344b.

Catalogue Note

first edition, presentation copy of darwin's greatest work: "the most important biological book ever written" (Freeman) and "one of the most important books ever published" (Garrison-Morton).

Of the first edition of 1,250 copies, 58 were distributed by Murray for review, promotion, and presentation, and Darwin reported that the balance was sold out on the first day of publication. The presentation copies likely number less than 30, all having secretarial inscriptions and were sent by the publisher at Darwin's request.  "There are no known author's presentation copies of the first edition inscribed in Darwin's hand" (Norman).

 "Dr. Buist / Bombay/ from the author".

Dr. George Buist, after taking degrees at St. Andrews and the University of Edinburgh, left Scotland for a journalistic posting in India, where his scientific interests led him to serve as Secretary to the Bombay Geographical Society. (This was the same role as Darwin for the London Geographical Society and both men were fellows of the Royal Society).