DARWIN, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray, 1859. 8o in 12s (198 x 125 mm). 32 pp. publisher's catalogue dated June 1859 at end [Freeman variant 3]. Half-title with quotations from "W. Whewell" and Bacon only on verso. Folding lithographic diagram by William West after Darwin bound to face page 117. (Tiny pin holes to blank portion of title and half-title.) Original green cloth, covers decorated in blind, gilt spine [Freeman variant b], brown coated endpapers, uncut by Edmonds and Remnants with their ticket on the lower pastedown (extremities lightly rubbed, head and foot of spine and corners a bit bumped, spine slightly darkening, a few faint stains to sides); modern cloth folding case. Provenance: Presentation inscription to an unknown recipient ("From the author" [secretarial hand] on the front free endpaper verso); Gerald Walter Erskine Loder (1861-1936) member of Parliament for Brighton and President of the Royal Arboricultural Society from 1926-1927 and President of the Royal Horticultural Society (bookplate). "A TURNING POINT, NOT ONLY IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, BUT IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS IN GENERAL" (DSB) PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION "OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SCIENTIFIC WORK OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY" (Grolier/Horblit). In this revolutionary statement of his concept of the evolution of species "Darwin not only drew an entirely new picture of the workings of organic nature; he revolutionized our methods of thinking and our outlook on the natural order of things. The recognition that constant change is the order of the universe had been finally established and a vast step forward in the uniformity of nature had been taken" (PMM). Presentation copies of the first edition of the Origin are VERY RARE. Freeman states that 23 presentation copies are recorded, "but there were probably more." These copies all bear secretarial inscriptions and were sent at Darwin's request to his friends and colleagues by the publisher. "There are no known author's presentation copies of the first edition inscribed in Darwin's hand" (Norman). Although some key observations and findings from the voyage of the Beagle acted as his initial inspiration, Darwin's ideas about the beneficial mutation of species did not cohere into the theory of evolution until his reading of Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population in the latter half of 1838. The theory which Malthus applied to humans made it clear to him that with species in general competition left only the best adapted to biological life. While the randomness of the process made it irreconcilable with higher design, Darwin nevertheless treated nature anthropomorphically "as a sort of omnipotent breeder who selected the most useful traits" (Adrian Desmond, James Moore and Janet Browne in ODNB). Before moving to Down House, he wrote a 35-page sketch of his evolutionary theory, completed in June 1842. By February 1844 he had converted this into a coherent 231-page essay. There was then a considerable break until late in 1854 when, having finished his barnacle volumes, he returned to collating his notes on species. On 14 May 1856, after consulting Charles Lyell, he began writing an extended treatise aimed at his peers. By March 1858 "Natural Selection" was two thirds complete at 250,000 words, the whole book projected to run to three volumes. Then in June 1858 Darwin received a letter about evolution from Alfred Russell Wallace, who had arrived at similar conclusions independently. This led to papers on the subject by both scientists being read to the Linnean Society of London on 1 July. To stay ahead of the field Darwin had now to publish more rapidly. Urged on by Hooker, he wrote an "abstract" of "Natural Selection," finishing a manuscript of 155,000 words in April 1859. "The book, stripped of references and academic paraphenalia, was aimed not at the specialists, but directly at the reading public." Finally published as The Origin of Species on 24 November 1859 in a print run of 1250 copies, it expounded a theory of evolution that was recognisably superior and of infinitely greater impact than all previous hypotheses explaining biological diversity. With "species" mispelled "speceies" on page 20, with the whale-bear story in full on page 184. Dibner Heralds of Science 199; Heirs of Hippocrates 1724; Freeman 373; Garrison-Morton (1991) 220; Grolier Science 23b; Norman 593; PMM 344b; Sparrow Milestones 49; Waller 10786.