$160k first edition of On the Origin of Species for sale

2009 was the year that celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, and also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his greatest work: On the Origin of Species. The year included a number of instances of Darwin's works and memorabilia achieving excellent prices at auction.

Most notably, two first editions of Darwin's most famous work sold for six figure sums: a copy sold in New York for $170,000, whilst a copy which had sat in a bathroom in Oxford for many years fetched £103,250 ($167,000) in London.

The latter sale also saw a copy of Darwin's earlier work reporting on his experiences on the Voyage of the Beagle (published long before he was prepared to go public with the ideas of natural selection which the journey had inspired) sell for £21,250.

On the Origin of Species had a first edition print run of just 1,250 and sold out immediately, which is why copies in good condition command high prices. Other editions had minor, but significant, changes such as inserting 'by the creator' at a crucial point in the second edition.

Charles Darwin On the Origin of Species first edition natural selection evolution
First edition of On the Origin of Species ($160k)

A first edition of the work in particularly good condition is currently being offered by bookseller 19th Century Books, and available through the online bookseller Abe Books. Despite two creased pages, it is a very fine copy, and on offer for just under the price the other two first editions fetched: $160,000.

Book collectors may also be interested to know that the bible Robert Burns drew comfort from in his dying days is available for sale.


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Image: 19th Century Booksellers

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