A first edition of Charles Darwin's "Origin of
Species" has sold for a record amount of just over half a million
dollars, the auction house said.
Bonhams said the 160-year-old book sold for 500,075 dollars to an anonymous buyer in an online sale that concluded at midnight Thursday. The winning bid was more than double the amount expected, Bonhams said in a news release. Described by Bonhams as "in pristine condition," the book, whose full title is "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," had been held in a private collection for nearly 100 years.
Darwin, a British naturalist and biologist who developed the theory of evolution by observing and studying birds, plants and fossils around the world, published the book in 1859.
His revolutionary scientific theory is considered a turning point in the history of science as it clashed with belief in creation taught by established religions. The book was among a number of first edition presentation copies that were sent to family and friends shortly after it was published. Its original owner was German botanist Robert Caspary, whose work is discussed in other Darwin publications. It bears the inscription "Professor Caspary / Koenigsberg / from the author."
Caspary's copy was sold in the early 20th century to Edward Bradford Titchener, an English-born psychologist and professor at Cornell University in New York, according to Bonhams. It descended to the current owner, who was not identified. In advertising the auction Bonhams said this "wonderful association" made it "a once in a generation opportunity."
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