On the various contrivances by which British and foreign Orchids are fertilised by insects.
Eur 2,200 / USD 2,400
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London, John Murray, 1862. 8vo (196 x 125 mm). pp. vi, 365, 32 (inserted advertisement dated December 1861), with one folding plate and 33 text woodcuts. Original publisher's plum-coloured cloth, gilt orchid on frontcover (head and foot of spine chipped).
First edition, first issue
First edition, first issue. A fine copy. "Darwin himself wrote to John Murray on September 24th, 1861, 'I think this little volume will do good to the 'Origin', as it will show that I have worked hard at details. From a publisher's point of view however the book was not a success. It was concerned with working out in detail the relationships between sexual structures of orchids and the insects which fertilize them, their evolution being attributed to natural selection. It is therefore the first of the volumes of supporting evidence" (Freeman p. 112). This book contains Darwin's famous prediction of the existance of a nocturnal moth with a twelve inch long proboscis, a prediction based upon the structure of a Madagascar orchid, the 'Angraecum sesquipedale' . Scientists ridiculed him for this, but the moth, of the Xanthopan genus, was discovered recently. The present work is the only Murray Darwin between 1859 and 1910 not bound in green cloth.
Apart from the slight damage to the spine a copy with interesting provenances, with the bookplates of Charles Norris, Charles W. Swainston Goodger, John Farquhar Fulton and H.F. Bienfait.