Presentation in Darwin's own hand

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.

8vo. IX, (1), 502, 32 pp. With half title, folding lithographed diagram and publisher's adverts at end dated June 1859. Original green cloth covers bound in as pastedowns, cloth spine mounted on first free endpaper at the end. Modern blue morocco, gilt, marbled flyleaves. Stored in custom-made slipcase.


First edition, first issue, of "the most important single work in science" (Dibner), and "a turning point, not only in the history of science, but in the history of ideas in general" (DSB). "No work of science has ever been so fully vindicated by subsequent investigation, or has so profoundly altered humanity's view of itself and how the living world works" (Wilson).

This first impression of the first edition can be distinguished from later impressions of the work through the presence of the misprint "speceies" on p. 20, which was corrected in the second impression. This copy handsomely rebound but still retaining the cloth binding of Freeman's variant b. Of the first edition of 1250 copies, fifty-eight were distributed for review and presentation, this being one of them: the slip of paper "with Mr Darwin's compliments", uncommonly in Darwin's own hand, tipped in at beginning. Small closed tear in the folded table, very light soiling and foxing at the beginning, but a good, clean and uncut copy.

Provenance: small ink stamp of Francis Darwin Swift (1864-1944), grandson of Charles Darwin's uncle Francis Sacheverel Darwin, showing a leaf-bearing stag and the name "F. Swift" in blackletter.


PMM 344. Dibner Heralds (1980) 199. Eimas Heirs 1724. Freeman 373. Garrison/Morton (1991) 220. Grolier, Science 23b. Norman 593. Sparrow, Milestones 49. Waller 10786.

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