DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)
On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1860. Octavo. 432pp., plus folding lithographic diagram. With the half-title. Light foxing.
Publisher's green grained cloth, covers blocked in blind, spine in gilt, brown endpapers (expert repair at head of spine). Housed in a green morocco backed box.
Provenance: Benjamin Lincoln (contemporary signature)
The first American edition of one of the most influential books ever published.
Freeman calls Darwin's magnum opus "the most important biological book ever written" (Freeman), whilst Dibner writes that it is "the most important single work in science" (Heralds of Science). "What the dropping of the first atomic bomb was to the twentieth century, the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species was to the nineteenth century. Battle lines were drawn on both religious and scientific grounds" (Heirs of Hippocrates).
"As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form." (Introduction p.12).
The first edition of On The Origin of Species was published in London on 24 November 1859. In total 1250 copies were printed, but after deducting presentation and review copies, and five for Stationers' Hall copyright, around 1,170 copies were available for sale. The second edition of 3,000 copies was quickly brought out on 7 January 1860, the present first American edition followed and a third English edition was published in 1861. The book went through a further four editions during Darwin's lifetime and has remained in print ever since.
The present example is the first issue of the first American edition, with two quotes on verso of the half-title.
Freeman 377; cf. Dibner Heralds of Science 188 (refers); cf. Horblit 236 (refers); cf. Printing and the Mind of Man 344b (refers).