MENDEL, Johann Gregor (1822-1884). ‘Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden’. Offprint from: Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn. Vol. IV (1865). pp. -47. Brno: Georg Gastl for the Naturforschenden Verein, 1866.
8° (228 x 147 mm). 47pp. (Insignificant marginal stain to title-page and second leaf, faint creasing at top corner at end.) Original grey-paper backstrip, slightly later yellow paper wrappers (tiny spot and insignificant marginal stain at lower edge to upper wrapper); purple cloth box.
EXTREMELY RARE OFFPRINT ISSUE OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE SCIENCE OF GENETICS. 'One of the most important papers in the history of biology, and the foundation of modern genetics' (DSB).
The son of Moravian peasants, Mendel was an academically gifted child. He was determined not to follow the family tradition of farming, and instead entered the Augustinian monastery at Brünn (now Brno) in 1843. The monastery itself was dedicated to teaching, and was filled with an array of academic monks, one of whom, Fr Aurelius Thaler (1796-1843), established an experimental garden. In 1851 Mendel enrolled at Vienna University, where he was exposed to a wide range of scientific courses including plant physiology. Here, he learned that plants were composed of cells, and was introduced to hybridization by artificial fertilization. Upon his return to the monastery, Mendel used the experimental plot and a new green-house to explore the effects of cross-fertilization in plants. His paper 'reports the results of ten years of experimental work on artificial plant hybridization, during which he followed a program designed to test his working hypothesis that hereditary matter is discrete and particulate. Mendel bred and cultivated nearly thirty thousand pea plants, performing careful statistical analyses of the distribution of seven pairs of mutually exclusive seed and plant characteristics -- a manageable number that allowed him to observe all possible combinations of traits' (Grolier Medicine). The surprising result of Mendel's years of methodical research and systematic statistical analysis was his discovery of the 'Mendelian ratios,' a mathematical expression of the pattern of dominant and recessive hereditary traits, possibly 'the most significant single achievement in the history of genetics' (Garrison-Morton). Related to this discovery was Mendel's recognition of the independence of each set of traits in a hybrid from all other differences in the two parental plants (later known as Mendel's law of independent assortment).
A FRESH COPY IN FINE CONDITION, ONE OF ONLY 14 KNOWN EXTANT OFFPRINTS, of which eight are in institutions. Although Mendel's paper was distributed, in journal form, to 134 scientific institutions in various countries, and the offprint of 40 copies circulated to colleagues and correspondents at the author's discretion, it was not taken note of and fell into obscurity. In 1900, within a two-month period, there appeared three independent reports by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erich von Tschermak which reached the same conclusions almost simultaneously, each acknowledging that they had been preceded by a virtually unknown monk several decades before. Subsequent work in the 1930s established that Mendel's laws provided the necessary solution - unknown to Darwin - to understand the mechanism by which evolution by natural selection could work.
Dibner Heralds of Science 35; Garrison-Morton 222; Grolier/Horblit 73a; Grolier Medicine 74; PMM 356a; Stafleu 5818; Norman 1489.