DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. London: John Murray, 1859.
8° in 12s (201 x 125mm). Folding lithographic diagram. 32-page list of John Murray's books at end, dated June 1859 [Freeman's variant 3]. (Half-title detached, light scattered spotting mainly in the margins of the first and last few leaves, small dampstain in the bottom margin of some gatherings.) Uncut in original green cloth, with the ticket of Edmonds & Remnants, covers stamped in blind, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, brown coated endpapers [Freeman's variant 'a' binding] (front hinge split with front free endpaper detached, small bibliographical note tipped to verso of front endpaper, rear hinge starting but holding, short split with small loss along rear joint, corners lightly bumped); burgundy buckram clamshell case. Provenance: W.H. Smith & Son (small blindstamp on free endpaper) – Lord Kennet of the Dene (bookplate).
[With:] – Autograph letter signed (‘C. Darwin’), to an unnamed recipient [W.B. Tegetmeier], Down, Bromley, Kent, 7 March , renewing an offer to send him some 'Fowls-skins from Burmah' and pay for the carriage, and hoping that his previous letter on the subject has not miscarried, and that the recipient is not indisposed, one page, 8vo (backed and tipped onto the front free endpaper, light wear and light discolouration in the margins).
FIRST EDITION OF 'THE MOST IMPORTANT SINGLE WORK IN SCIENCE' (Dibner), and ‘A TURNING POINT, NOT ONLY IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, BUT IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS IN GENERAL’ (DSB). This copy is in its original cloth binding, and with an autograph letter signed, APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED (not in the Darwin Correspondence Project online), discussing the loan of specimens from Burma in Darwin’s collection (the DCP records letters to Tegetmeier on this subject on 17 January and 14 April 1858). Darwin's correspondent W.B. Tegetmeier (1816-1912, naturalist and editor) was Secretary of the Apiarian Society of London, a pigeon-fancier and expert on poultry, editing contributions to the Field in these areas between 1864 and 1907. Although some key observations and findings from the voyage of the Beagle acted as his initial inspiration, Darwin's ideas about the beneficial mutation of species did not cohere into the theory of evolution until his reading of Thomas Malthus's 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. Two years later he had composed an extended treatise entitled 'Natural Selection' some two thirds complete at 250,000 words. Then in June 1858 Darwin received a letter about evolution from Alfred Russel Wallace, who had independently arrived at similar conclusions. The two scientists issued a joint paper on the subject at the Linnean Society on 1 July. Darwin was now forced to publish, and urged on by Hooker, he condensed his big book into an 'abstract' of some 155,000 words. 'The book, stripped of references and academic paraphernalia, was aimed not at the specialists, but directly at the reading public'. Finally published as On the Origin of Species on 24 November 1859 in a print run of 1250 copies, it expounded a theory of evolution that was recognisably superior and of infinitely greater impact than all previous hypotheses explaining biological diversity. Dibner Heralds (1980) 199; Eimas Heirs 1724; Freeman 373; Garrison-Morton (1991) 220; Grolier Science 23b; Norman 593; PMM 344b; Sparrow Milestones 49; Waller 10786.