First Edition of Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' Sells for $170,569
The book was recently rediscovered sitting on a bookcase in the guest bathroom of the vendor’s house. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd. 2009.
LONDON.- A rediscovered first edition of Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection' sold today at Christie’s in London for £103,250 / $170,569 / €114,298 (estimate: £40,000 to £60,000). Recently rediscovered sitting on a bookcase in the guest bathroom of the vendor’s house, it had been bought for only a few shillings over 50 years ago. The book was sold 150 years to the day after this seminal work of scientific literature was first published (November 24, 1859). It was bought by an anonymous client bidding by telephone.
Margaret Ford, Director and Head of Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s London: “It is a very fitting occasion to have sold this rediscovered copy of Darwin’s 'Origin of Species' 150 years to the day after it was first published. One of the most important and influential scientific books ever written, the copy sold today was an unusual rediscovery having been found in the guest bathroom of the vendor’s house. We are thrilled to have seen so much interest for the book leading up to the auction where clients competed in the room and by telephone, with an anonymous telephone bidder winning the battle and acquiring it for £103,250.”
The vendor’s son-in-law was recently visiting an exhibition on Darwin when he noticed a first edition of the book on display. Seeing the distinctive green spine, he recognized it as a book on a bookcase in the guest bathroom of his father-in-law; he found there a fresh copy of a rare first edition of the book. It was this copy that sold today at Christie’s for £103,250 / $170,569 / €114,298.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is most recognized for his theory of evolution, which states that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors. His most notable publication was 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection' which was first published on November 24, 1859, and which became one of the most influential scientific books ever written. He was buried in Westminster Cathedral alongside Sir Isaac Newton, and is one of only 5 non-Royal Brits to be honored by a State Funeral, the others being Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington and two former Prime Ministers; Lord Palmerston and the Rt. Hon. William Gladstone.