On the Origin of Species

Charles DARWIN

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On the Origin of Species
On the Origin of Species


DARWIN, Charles. On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life… Fifth Thousand. London: John Murray, 1860. Octavo, original blind and gilt-stamped green cloth. Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box.

Second edition, second issue, as always (the first issue known in only a few copies), of "certainly the most important biological book ever written" (Freeman), published less than two months after the first edition. A lovely, unrestored copy.

"This, the most important single work in science, brought man to his true place in nature" (Heralds of Science 199). Darwin "was intent upon carrying Lyell's demonstration of the uniformity of natural causes over into the organic world… In accomplishing this Darwin not only drew an entirely new picture of the workings of organic nature; he revolutionized our methods of thinking and our outlook on the natural order of things. The recognition that constant change is the order of the universe had been finally established and a vast step forward in the uniformity of nature had been taken" (PMM 344). The Origin was recognized immediately as important, revolutionary and highly controversial; the small first edition of only 1250 copies sold out very quickly, and is extremely rare today. By the late autumn of 1859 the publisher Murray was asking Darwin to begin revising at once for a new edition. This copy is the second edition, published in January of 1860, with "fifth thousand" on the title page and three quotations opposite the title page, rather than two as in the first edition. This is the second issue, as usual, with 1860 on the title page; the first issue, with 1859 on the title page, is known in only a few copies. Alterations between the first and second editions are minor, though it is notable that Darwin shortens the "whale-bear" story. Freeman's binding variant a, no priority established. Freeman 376. See Horblit, 23b; Dibner, 199; PMM 344b. Owner pencil signature on title page and bookplate of Charles Jenner of Edinburgh: "A man of great energy as well as business acumen, Jenner was well known to contemporaries as a man of science, an accomplished amateur botanist and geologist, and a patron of the arts. From 1851 he was a member of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh and in 1865 he was elected to the élite Botanical Society Club. A previously unknown alpine moss, discovered by Jenner in 1867 while on one of his many scientific tours in Europe, was officially named Didymodon jennerii in his honor… Jenner was a founder of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution in 1864" (ODNB). Another bookplate; occasional pencil underlining and sidelining.

Some foxing to fore-edge, text generally clean. Cloth with minor discoloration to covers and a few rubs to corners, gilt quite bright. A lovely unrestored copy, with a nice scientific provenance.

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