Handwritten page of Darwin’s ‘Origin’ up for grabs
(CNN) — If you want to own a piece of scientific history, you don’t need a science degree — just some sharp bidding skills and a very large chunk of money.
A handwritten page from the conclusion of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” is due to be auctioned off Thursday, with an opening bid of $675,000.
The page, effectively, is scientific gold, as it wraps up Darwin’s key arguments — written in his own hand — for the theory of natural selection and evolution. It also bears Darwin’s signature.
A quick science lesson: Darwin pioneered this subject area. In his view, more organisms were born than the environment could handle, so the weak, or at least those that could not adapt, would eventually die. He called it natural selection.
So, how did the page end up for sale at auction? Nate D. Sanders Auctions, the Los Angeles-based company hosting the bidding, won’t tell us.
Rare first edition
What we can tell you is that the page likely comes from a November 1859 first edition draft, the auction note states. Darwin wrote it at the request of an editor of a book of autograph manuscripts. The page has some folds, and you can see some discoloration, but it’s “overall in very good to near fine condition with a legible writing and a bold signature by Darwin.”
“These original manuscripts reveal Darwin’s extraordinary interest in biological life and what today we’d call biodiversity. Darwin’s attention to detail demonstrates his talent as a scientist and a naturalist,” Nate Sanders said in a statement.
Here’s the full transcript:
”I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations, which have thoroughly convinced me that species have been modified, during a long course of descent, by the preservation on the natural selection of many successive slight favourable variations. I cannot believe that a false theory would explain, as it seems to me that the theory of natural selection does explain, the several large classes of facts above specified. It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that [Gottfried] Leibnitz formerly accused [Isaac] Newton of introducing ‘occult qualities & miracles into philosophy.’ – Charles Darwin”
if you’re interested, now’s the time to collect your cash. Bidding starts Thursday at 5 p.m. PT.