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DARWIN, Charles.

On the various contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing.

With illustrations.

London: John Murray, 1862 Stock Code: 137117
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First issue, original cloth

First edition, first issue, with advertisements dated December 1861. It is Darwin's first book after the Origin of Species, and the first volume of supporting evidence - it attributes the symbiosis between orchids and insects to natural selection. Darwin wrote to his publisher that "I think this little volume will do good to the 'Origin', as it shows that I have worked hard at details" (cited in Freeman). However, although praised by botanists, it was not a great success with the public, who were more interested in the controversy of evolution than the details. Freeman estimates the number of copies printed to be no more than 2,000, and probably less. It is the only Darwin title issued by Murray between 1859 and 1910 not bound in the characteristic green cloth.

Provenance: with the pencilled ownership inscription of W. Spottiswoode on the front free endpaper; presumably William Spottiswoode (1825-1883), mathematician, printer, friend of Darwin, and later president of the Royal Society and one of Darwin's pallbearers.

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Octavo in twelves. Original purple fine diaper-grain cloth vertically ruled in blind, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, blind ornamental panels to covers, gilt orchid motif to front cover, terracotta coated endpapers, Edmonds & Remnants binder's ticket.


Folding wood-engraved plate of the Orchis mascula, 33 wood-engravings in the text; publisher's 32-page catalogue at end dated December 1861.


Lightly rubbed, a touch of wear to extremities, superficial cracks to inner hinges, slight offsetting from a piece of pink blotting paper previously laid in at pp. 108-9, still a very good copy.


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