As 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the printing of On the Origin of Species, we recently went through the process of adding our First Edition copy to the official Darwin Census.
The objectives of the Darwin Census are:
- to establish the frequency of the known variants;
- to identify any unknown variants; and
- to locate missing presentation copies.
Eventually the results of the Census will be posted to Darwin Online.
In the process of registering our copy we noted that while ours is indeed a first edition text, it is housed in a second edition binding! This was not an uncommon occurrence for books having seen some use to be re-cased in a newer binding at a later date. Distinguishing features of a First Edition text include the publication date of 1859 and only two quotations on the verso opposite the title page. It also has the word “speceies” misspelled on page 20, line 11. The distinguishing feature of our Second Edition binding is a single full point (“.”) after the word MURRAY at the bottom of the spine!
Our copy is in good condition and the text is complete, including the advertisements at the back of the book. It has some minor foxing and noticeable fingerprints at the bottom of many of the pages, a sure sign of use. Our reader also noted the misspelling on page 20 and has crossed out the offending letter in pencil! It contains a bookplate for previous owner John Hadmar Sticht, a doctor who received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1952. It was purchased by the College in 1970.
Our copy is now known as No. 10036 and, like all of our rare books, is available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room.