Own a share in first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species

Own a share in first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species

People can now part-own a first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, valued at £275,000, with 5,550 shares on sale at £50 each

  • The father of evolution’s very first edition is being flogged for £50 a part 
  • When the book was first sold it was 15 shillings which would be £79.60 today
  •  A company called Showpiece if offering people the chance to own history

A first edition copy of Charles Darwin’s is being sold for £50 a piece so that fans can have part ownership of the historical tome. 

Featured within its pages is Darwin’s original diagram of the tree of life, a concept introduced to describe relationships between different species with common ancestors. 

The book was recently valued at £275,000 and Showpiece – a British ‘fractional ownership platform – is offering 5,550 shares in the book so that members of the public can have a chance of owning a part of groundbreaking history. 

Charles Darwin (pictured above) is often seen as the godfather of science and his work is still quoted today 

The leather-bound green book is one of 1,250 first editions sold - which were 15 shillings in the Victorian era, the equivalent to £79 today and a week's wages in it's time

The leather-bound green book is one of 1,250 first editions sold – which were 15 shillings in the Victorian era, the equivalent to £79 today and a week’s wages in it’s time 

The antique book's true value is £275,000 but is being sold for part ownership for £50 which allows a member of the public to say the own a piece of Darwin's original copy

The antique book’s true value is £275,000 but is being sold for part ownership for £50 which allows a member of the public to say the own a piece of Darwin’s original copy

Oliver Bayliss, founder of Bayliss Rare Books, dealers of iconic first editions from around the world, said: ‘It is rare to find a copy in such condition. This is up there with the best I’ve seen, an absolutely stunning example.’

This first-edition specifically boasts a number of special features missing in later editions. 

For instance, the book carries a half title on the cover page, an ‘Edmond and Remnant’s binder’s ticket, and 32 pages of advertisement that name ‘Murrays’ the original publishers of the book. 

According to experts, Darwin related collectibles are now in high demand. Recent and upcoming auctions have seen a journal sold for over £300,000, his microscope for £600,000, and expect a signed manuscript to fetch up to as much as £700,000. 

Stamps at the back of the book show that it was originally bound by Edmonds & Remnants of London

Stamps at the back of the book show that it was originally bound by Edmonds & Remnants of London

The pages, which are over a century old, are in remarkable condition despite being passed around collectors

The pages, which are over a century old, are in remarkable condition despite being passed around collectors 

Dan Carter, co-founder of Showpiece.com, commented: ‘This book literally changed the world as we know it so it’s been unsurprising that early ownership have been strong throughout the UK but we also have seen interest from as far as Australia and Canada.’

The company makes sure owners receive a legal deed of ownership upon purchase and each fraction has an equal beneficial interest in the item. 

Ownership of a piece directly corresponds to the physical item, where possible made available for collectors to view. 

When a first edition ‘On The Origin of Species’ written in 1859 by Charles Darwin went on sale and fetched over a quarter of a million pounds, most considered that out of reach – but the ground-breaking scientific work, often referred to as the greatest work of scientific literature.

The book has a special green velvet case which keeps it in pristine condition and protects the binding on the book

The book has a special green velvet case which keeps it in pristine condition and protects the binding on the book

Having once resided in Mudie’s Library, this first edition On the Origin of Species has spent a lengthy 163 years traveling through various collectors’ and readers’ hands.

The book has under 2,000 first edition copies in circulation and when it was first sold, would have been worth 15 shillings – £79.60 in today’s currency, although this figure is subject to inflation so the true value would have been closer to someone’s weekly salary. 

£79.50 in today’s money is subject to a £90 inflation and would have been equivalent to £11,819.95 in 1859. 

Darwin was known for his work on evolution and was often thought to have coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ but the credit for this oft misquoted sentence is from English philosopher Herbert Spencer in his 1864 Principles of Biology. 

Aswell as being featured on the UK £10 note for a total of 18 years, along with an image of HMS Beagle the behavioral scientist was also known for his love of unusual foods such as the puma, ostrich, and armadillo. 

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Eve Tawfick

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