5 December 2006
DARWIN, Charles (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.
8o in 12s. Half-title. Folding lithographic diagram. (Lacking the advertisement leaf, occasional spotting, heaviest at beginning.) 19th-century half calf, marbled boards, black morocco lettering-piece (rubbed). Provenance: Toronto Natural History Society (inkstamp on title, label on pastedown, shelf mark on spine).
FIRST EDITION OF "THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SCIENTIFIC WORK OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. Its publication aroused world-wide criticism and controversy, both religious and scientific" (Grolier/Horblit). The whole edition of 1250 copies was sold on the day of publication. Though the work was initially prompted by observations, made during his travels aboard the Beagle from 1831 to 1836, of the biology and geology of isolated islands, Darwin spent nearly 25 years after his return to England accumulating evidence and considering his theory before publishing. "Although the theory of evolution can be traced to the ancient Greek belief in the 'great chain of being,' Darwin's greatest achievement was to make this centuries-old 'underground' concept acceptable to the scientific community by cogently arguing for the existence of a viable mechanism -- natural selection -- by which new species evolve over vast periods of time. Darwin's influence on biology was fundamental and continues to be felt today" (Garrison-Morton). Dibner Heralds of Science 199; Freeman 373; Garrison-Morton-Norman 220; Grolier/Horblit 23b; Grolier Medicine 70B; Norman 593; PMM 344b.
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