Darwin's Origin of the Species sells for £100k

Christie's sold a first edition copy of Darwin's On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection this week in London. The copy had been kept carefully in the toilet of an Oxford home for decades.

The text, selling on the 150th anniversary of the book's publication, did not disappoint but with the anticipation leading up to the sale was greeted with some excitement, and bidders rapidly jostled past each other in efforts to win the classic work.

It had been estimated at £40,000-60,000 (up to $100,000), but easily surpassed this being finally taken home for £103,250.

Other works by Darwin benefitted from the interest generated in the sale, including a slightly damaged first edition copy of Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle.

Darwin Voyage Beagle
Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle

Consisting of three volumes and an appendix, this includes Darwin's first work and contains comments on his first inspirations to his theory of evolution. It sold for £21,250 ($33,000).

An offprint of Darwin's 1839 paper On the Connexion of Certain Volcanic Phenomena in South America; and on the Formation of Mountain Chains and Volcanos, as the Effect of the Same Power by Which Continents are Elevated reminds us that Darwin was originally a geologist, and no less ambitious in attempting to generate grand theories in that field. It sold for £16,250.

Whilst Darwin's neglected work naturally caught the headlines, it was not the biggest sale in the auction which was an illuminated set of texts on vellum by and relating to 14th century Petrarch in Italian. Petrarch's Nota de Laura, Il Canzoniere and I Trionfi, as well as Leonardo Bruni's Vita di Petrarca were sold together.

Illustrated vellum Petrach
Illustration from Petrarch

The works contain some phenomenal illustrations, and these along with Petrarch's standing as poet (he is remembered for the form known as Petrachian sonnets) and father of humanism propelled the lot to an extraordinary £349,250.

Illustrated Petrarch vellum
Illustration from Petrarch

A particularly strong sign that people are not afraid to invest in high-end rare books, even those which require real financial commitment.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock