• Valuable Manuscripts and Print auction at Christies

    Sale 7760

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    24 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 47

    DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882). 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. [London: Geological Society: 1839].

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    DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882). 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. [London: Geological Society: 1839].

    4° (288 x 232mm). FIRST EDITION, OFFPRINT, pp.601-631 (last page blank), 3 text figures, engraved map of South America, tipped-in slip describing the illustrations headed 'Plate XLIX'. (Very light marginal dust soiling to recto of first leaf, otherwise fine and clean internally.) Original blue/grey sugar-paper stitched wrappers, partly unopened (very light dust soiling to upper wrapper, fore-edge of upper wrapper just a fraction frayed at head).

    ONE OF ONLY 15 COPIES OF DARWIN'S GLOBAL THEORY OF THE EARTH. Darwin was keen not only to produce the official reports on the geology observed on the Beagle voyage, but also to underpin it with 'an ambitious causal explanation of continental elevation, which would in turn fit into an even more ambitious ... geotheory of endlessly rising and subsiding crustal plates' (Rudwick p.493). DARWIN'S 'REMARKABLE ATTEMPT TO DEVELOP A GLOBAL TECTONIC SYNTHESIS' (Rhodes p.193) was read to the Geological Society on 7 March 1838. A summary, without illustration, was published in the society's Proceedings II, no. 56, 1838, pp.654-660. Darwin revised the paper and the final version was published in the Society's Transactions 2nd Ser., V, 3, on 21 February 1840. The present work is printed on the same sheets, but the details on the inserted slip present here are reset from those incorporated in p.16 of the 'Explanation of the Plates and Woodcuts' in the Transactions. The Council Minutes in the Geological Society's archives for 18 December 1839 reveal that only 15 copies were offprinted (CM 1/5 p.252). This is confirmed by cross-referencing the society's ledgers (FIN 1/2 p.215). EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, 'IT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE FOR UNDERSTANDING [DARWIN'S] INTELLECTUAL POSITION [ON GEOLOGY]' (Herbert, p.225). Not in Freeman (his 1656 is the serial publication, giving the incorrect number of illustrations and omitting the map). Sandra Herbert, Charles Darwin, Geologist, 2005, pp.217-232; Frank H.T. Rhodes, 'Darwin's search for a theory of the Earth' in BJHS, 1991, 24, pp.193-229; Martin J.S. Rudwick, Worlds Before Adam, 2008, pp.492-3.


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