Rare Charles Darwin Signed Manuscript Set to Break Record at Auction

The manuscript is estimated to go for between an estimated $600,000 to $800,000

charles darwin

The most significant autographed manuscript by Charles Darwin to ever enter the private market is set to garner an estimated $600,000 to $800,000 at a Sotheby's auction later this year, the auction company said in a release. The manuscript, which contains a passage from Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," is one of several rare Darwin documents set for Sotheby's "Age of Wonder" auction, which will take place between Nov. 25 to Dec. 9, 2022.

Manuscripts and notes from Darwin, who was the first to theorize evolution, are considered rarities because Darwin was known to revise many of his writings and often times threw out or reused working drafts as scraps.

The manuscript leaf of a passage from his famous book was signed and submitted to a magazine publisher who had asked Darwin for a sample of his handwriting to reprint in Autographic Mirror. A passage of the manuscript reads:

“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 or 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…”

The passage is significant because it is taken from Darwin's third edition of "On the Origin of Species," which represents his complete thinking on the subject of evolution.

Sotheby's, along with the signed manuscript, also plan on auctioning a first edition of "On the Origin of Species" and "On the Tendencies of Species to Form Varieties," which was written by both Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace.

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