London: John Murray, 1876. 8vo. viii, 482 pp. With 109 tables and 1 diagram; errata slip tipped in. Original green cloth; some very minor soiling, otherwise a very good copy with the ownership inscription of Charles Crompton, possibly the English barrister and Member of Parliament for Leek in Stafordshire and husband of Florence Elizabeth Gaskell (daughter of the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell). Item #16490
First edition, first issue (1500 copies), of Darwin’s survey of the mechanism favoring cross-fertilization. This work was based on twelve years of experimentation with 57 species and led to the discovery and demonstration of the concept of hybrid vigor, or “heterosis.”
Considered by Darwin to be complement to his work on fertlization of orchids, this demonstration of the advantages of cross-fertilization explains why sexual reproduction increases heritable variation; the work also explains the basis for the survival value granted by the existence of different sexes in species. The author concludes that this adaptation is an old one, inherited by plants and animals before they diverged from one another.