On the origin of species by means of natural selection. London John Murray 1859
8vo. ix, [i], 502 pp. With 1 folding plate. Half-morocco over marbled boards of the period. An excellent copy inscribed by Leonard Darwin, Charles Darwin's son, with related material bound in at the end, including a 2-page letter signed by Darwin, and an unrecorded offprint of a paper on Darwin's work. Preserved in a half-morocco solander box (see provenance). $125,000.00
First edition, first issue, of Darwin's historic and pioneering work on the theory of evolution; certainly the most important biological book ever written.
1. Half-title inscribed by Leonard Darwin: This is the first edition of the Origin -- written by my father -- containing a passage on p. 184 which he always regretted to have omitted in later editions -- 10 April 1927. Refers to the black bear and the possibility of their development by natural selection into aquatic animals, reprinted in the first four American editions (Osborn, Book Collector, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 77-78 (1960); Freeman, p. 76).
2. ALS. Charles Darwin to Lady Drysdale. [ca. 1859]. 2 pp. (possibly lacking 1 page).
The letter is addressed to the mother-in-law of Dr. Lane, whose Moor Park spas Darwin and his wife frequented after 1857. The letter was probably written while Darwin was at a hydropathic spa in Ilkley, Yorkshire from October to December, 1859. At that time Lane was moving to Sudbrooke Park, Surrey, which Darwin and his wife visited the following year.
3. ALS. George Augustus Rowell to Sir James Emerson Tennent (of Tempo Manor). 3 Alfred Street, Oxford, December 12, 1860. 3 pages.
4. ROWELL, George Augustus. "Mr. Darwin's Theory." Reprinted from the Oxford Chronicle of Dec. 8, 1860. 8 pp.
First edition of this unrecorded offprint on Darwin's theory of how instincts are neither endowed nor learned, but a result of "accidental natural selection." Rowell states that Darwin fails to sufficiently support his case, and "actually his examples of the cuckoo and the bee sting demonstrate the wisdom of the Creator." Interestingly enough, the author unwittingly offers further evidence in support of Darwin's theory.
Provenance: This copy of the Origin was presented to Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804-1869), best known for his works on the natural history of Ceylon, by George Augustus Rowell (1804-1892), underkeeper of the Ashmolean and of the Oxford University Museum. The Rowell letter notes that he became despondent about his scientific work and burned all his manuscripts, papers and apparatus. He eventually changed his mind, and in 1862 published a second edition of his pamphlet on pain. A slip bound in at the end by Sir Charles Langham, Baronet of Tempo Manor notes that Leonard Darwin had signed the book while visiting him, and that in 1946, the book was appraised at £ 20. Dibner, Heralds of Science, 199; Freeman, 373; Printing & the Mind of Man, 344b