Rare first edition of Darwin’s scientific masterpiece auctions for £162,500

By Andrew Morris | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A rare first edition copy of Charles Darwin’s most famous book,On The Origin Of Species, sold for £162,500 at auction - more than double the sum it had been expected to fetch.

Charles Darwin and his most famous work

Before the auction, at Sotheby’s in London, the book was expected to sell for between £50,000 and £70,000.

When the book was originally published, on November 24,1859, it cost just 15 shillings, or 75p in today's money.

Only 1,250 first edition copies of the book were printed and it is not known how many have survived.

Darwin was paid just £180 for the first edition of the book.

The copy sold on Tuesday at Sotheby’s was part of a £500,000 Charles Darwin collection - including books and letters written by Darwin and other items from the Darwin era – assembled by Toronto investment banker, Garrett Herman.

The statue of Charles Darwin outside Shrewsbury Library

At Sotheby’s in New York in April 2005, a single handwritten page from the original manuscript of On The Origin Of Species sold for £143,164 or about £900 a word.

A photograph of Charles Darwin by trail blazing Victorian camerawoman, Julia Margaret Cameron, sold for £25,000 at the Sotheby’s auction today.


It had been expected to sell for between £5,000 and £7,000.

Charles Darwin, naturalist, geologist and originator of the theory of natural selection, was born at The Mount, Shrewsbury, on February 12,1809.

He was the fifth child and second son of Robert Waring Darwin, Shrewsbury’s principal physician.

Charles Darwin’s parents are buried at St Chad’s church, Montford, near Shrewsbury.

Darwin was educated at Shrewsbury School.

The statue of Darwin outside Shrewsbury Library was unveiled on August 10,1894, and cost £1,086 nine shillings and sixpence or £1,086.48p in modern money.

Andrew Morris

By Andrew Morris
Local Democracy Reporter - @AndyMorrisLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.


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