DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: W. Clowes and Sons for John Murray, 1859.
8° (199 x 122mm). Half-title. Folding lithographic diagram by William West after Darwin. 32-page publisher's catalogue dated June 1859 [Freeman variant 3] bound in at the end. (Occasional light spotting, light unobtrusive staining to lower margin of some leaves, excised blank portion of half-title skilfully supplied, diagram with short, clean tear skilfully repaired on verso.) Original green cloth by Edmonds & Remnants, London with their ticket on the lower pastedown, boards panelled in blind, spine lettered and decorated in gilt [Freeman variant b], brown endpapers (a few small ink-marks, extremities lightly rubbed causing minor surface loss, corners a little bumped, small hole on upper joint, hinges skilfully reinforced, spine slightly leant), modern green morocco-backed box [by Shepherds], spine titled in gilt. Provenance: Henry Hammans, 41 High Street, Oxford (bookseller's blindstamp on front free endpaper; the bookseller and publisher Hammans was at this address c. 1860-1865) -- '£18-0-0, Wheldon & Wesley, Cat[alogue]. n[ew]. s[eries]. 63 (1945)' (pencilled inscription on upper pastedown).
FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL CLOTH. DARWIN'S WORK 'MARKED A TURNING POINT, NOT ONLY IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, BUT IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS IN GENERAL, for there is no field of human intellectual endeavor that has not been influenced by the thought and fact of evolution' (DSB III, p.571). Although based on Darwin's observations during his voyage on H.M.S. Beagle between 1831 and 1836, his ideas about the beneficial mutation of species did not cohere into the theory of evolution until he read Thomas Malthus' Essay on the Principle of Population in the latter half of 1838. The gestation of the theory was slow, but in 1856, following a conversation with Sir Charles Lyell about his hypothesis, Darwin was determined to bring it to a conclusion. In 1858 he received a letter about evolution from Alfred Russel Wallace, who had arrived at similar conclusions independently, and the two men read papers on the subject to the Linnean Society of London on 1 July 1858. The Origin of Species was finally published on 24 November 1859, expounding a theory of evolution that was recognisably superior to all previous hypotheses explaining variations within species. Of a print run of 1,250 copies, about 1,170 copies were available to the book trade, and were taken up immediately on publication. BM(NH) VI, p. 252; Dibner Heralds 199; Eimas Heirs 1724; Freeman 373; Garrison-Morton 220; Grolier Science 23b; Norman 593; PMM 344b; Pritzel 2057; Sparrow Milestones 49; Stafleu and Cowan 1313; Waller 10786.