Mexico City, Mexico — A copy of the first edition of “The Origin of Species”, the historic book by naturalist Charles Darwin published in 1859, has left a private collection to be auctioned in Mexico at a price between $52,000 and $62,500 USD.
The work by Darwin (1809-1882), is part of the auction “Books of explorers and travelers, letters and cartography, geography, science and religion” which Casa Morton will celebrate August 21 in the Mexican capital.
With the original title in English “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”, the book is one of the 1,250 copies of the first edition published in 1859 by British publisher, John Murray.
Specifically, the copy to be auctioned is one of the 23 “courtesy copies” that the editor and Darwin intended to be distributed among experts and friends, the company explained.
The owner bought it in 1993 at an auction of the Swann Galleries House in New York and as proof of this he presented Casa Morton with the purchase receipt, said the auctioneer, who did an investigation to verify the authenticity of the book.
Among the details that confirm it are the data of the printer, the typical cotton paper of the time and the handwritten annotation “From the author”, made on the first page by its employees, explained to Efe Rodrigo Agüero, specialist of the book department and Morton documents.
Darwin’s book came to Morton “in a fortuitous way,” Jesús Cruz, head of the department of valuation and cataloging of books and documents.
The book will have an initial price of between 1 million and 1.2 million peso in an auction that will reach a “wide range” of possible clients, Cruz believes.
The expert of Casa Morton recalled that the last occasion that a copy of this first edition was released for sale reached a price of about $4 million USD, “although of course, it had notes from Darwin himself.
“There are collectors, institutions, collectors of science books, and also those who can buy it at the whim of having it,” he adds.
Morton points out that Darwin began the work on July 20, 1858 with the idea of publishing a documentary summary in the Journal of the Linnean Society, but expanded it to the book, which he presented to the editor in April 1859. By November, he already had the first copies.
Other copies are also offered at the auction, such as the first and second edition of “Six months of residence in Mexico”, by William Bulluck, published in 1825 and which will have a base price of 16,000 peso.