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Lot 75


Considered to be the Most Important Nineteenth-Century Voyage

75. DARWIN, Charles, Philip Parker King & Robert Fitzroy. Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the Years 1826 and 1836, Describing their Examination of the Southern Shores of South America, and the Beagle’s Circumnavigation of the Globe. London: Henry Colburn, 1839. 4 vols., as follows:

Vol. I: xxviii, [1, directions to binder (verso blank)], [1, errata (verso blank)], 559, 556-597 [1 blank] pp., 3 folding maps, 16 plates, text illustrations.

Vol. II: xiv, [1, directions to binder, (verso blank)], 694, [1, addenda (verso blank)] pp., 3 maps (2 folding), 24 plates.

Vol. III: xiv, 629 [1 blank], [609]-615 [1 blank] pp., 2 folding maps, text illustrations.

Vol. IV: viii, 352, 16 (ads) pp., 3 maps (2 folding), 5 plates.

Total: 56 engraved plates and 8 folding maps, occasional wood-engraved text illustrations. Illustrations include scenes on the voyage, ships at sea and in repair, views, geographical features, ethnography, cloud formations, etc. The illustrations are attributed to P. King, A. Earle, C. Martens, R. Fitzroy, T. Landseer, S. Bull, T. Prior, and others.

3 vols. in 4 (including appendix to Vol. II), 8vo, publisher’s original dark green blind-embossed cloth, spines uniformly gilt lettered (all skillfully rebacked, original spines, map pockets with two original ribbons, and endpapers retained). Minor shelf wear, light rubbing, and bumping to corners, voids along edges neatly re-colored, minor losses to spinal extremities skillfully supplied. Text has light scattered foxing and some volumes have occasional light pencil notes. Plates with light to moderate foxing and several plates in Vol. II moderately waterstained. Tissue guards present. Some maps linen-backed at a later date; some browned at folds and with minor losses. Ownership inscription in ink in Vol. I dated 1959. Overall a fine copy with half titles, much better than usually found, and increasingly difficult to locate in original cloth.

     First edition, first issue (including as Vol. III Darwin’s first published book, here with the title uniform with the rest of the volumes and with M.A. after Darwin’s name on second title; the first issue was printed before the end of January 1839, the month Darwin was elected a Fellow to the Royal Society, thereafter his name is followed by F.R.S.). Bagnall 2996. Borba de Moraes I, p. 247. Ferguson, Australian Bibliography 2708. Freeman 10. Hill I, pp. 104-105. Hill II:607. Hocken, pp. 71-72. McIlheny, Nature Classics 199. National Maritime Museum I:159, 163, 164, 165. Norman 584. O’Reilly-Reitman 914 & 915. Palau 91931. Cf. Printing and the Mind of Man 343. Sabin 18647n & 37826. Vol. IV is actually the appendix of Vol. II and is usually bound separately.

     This work is the record of two scientific voyages to South America and around the world, the results of which became quickly eclipsed by the work Darwin contributed in Vol. III. The first voyage, under King’s command lasted from May 1826 to October 1830 and is described in Vol. I. Fitzroy commanded the second voyage, a circumnavigation that lasted from December 1831 to October 1836. It was on this voyage that Darwin sailed as naturalist. Among locales visited were Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, Australia, and New Zealand. Because of Darwin’s observations first published here, which became the basis for his theory of evolution, the second voyage is often considered the most important of the entire nineteenth century. “The five years of the voyage were the most important event in Darwin’s intellectual life and in the history of biological science” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).

     Demand for Darwin’s portion of the work was so strong that Colburn almost immediately reissued it. Contemplating what he had seen on the voyage and reported here, Darwin went on to publish his most famous work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859). One observation concerning evolutionary matters made by Fitzroy, of which Darwin might have also been a witness, was this conclusion concerning the legendary Patagonians: “Until actually measured, I could not believe they were not much taller than was found to be the fact” (Vol. II, p. 135). The frontispiece in Vol. I and the plate in Vol. II at p. 136 of the Patagonians give clever reinforcement to precisely that observation. When looking at the figures represented, one is at a loss to say how tall they are in life because the artists King and Martens have expertly mixed figures in the foreground and background in such a way to create masterful trompe l’oeil impressions. (4 vols.) ($25,000-50,000)

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