A First Edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species Could Sell for $180,000

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

If you’re interested in a first edition of Charles Darwin’s revolutionary 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, you should pay close attention to an upcoming Hindman auction in Chicago on November 5. That’s when bibliophiles of means will bid to see which of them takes possession of a book estimated to sell for between $120,000 and $180,000.

On the Origin of Species was Darwin’s attempt to illustrate his theory of evolution and the process of natural selection, which dictates that organisms with genetic variations adapted to their environment will outlast organisms that don't adapt. The book was published on November 24, 1859 and was well-received by scientists.

The Hindman copy of On the Origin of Species, published by John Murray of London, is said to be in “superb” condition. Another copy of the title sold at the Bonhams auction house in June 2019 for $500,075.

The book is part of an 85-title lot that was amassed by a single collector of rare volumes. Among the other offerings: Elementa Geometriae by Euclid, a 1422 tome thought to be one of the earliest printed books with geometrical figures and estimated to sell for $60,000 to $80,000; Ulysses by James Joyce, a 1922 first edition and limited-issue publisher’s print, signed by Joyce and estimated to sell for $120,000 to $180,000; and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, a 1997 first edition signed by Rowling and expected to fetch between $80,000 and $120,000.

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J.K. Rowling to Release New Children’s Book The Ickabog for Free Online

J.K. Rowling is helping kids (and adults) pass the time in quarantine with a story about a mysterious creature called the Ickabog.
J.K. Rowling is helping kids (and adults) pass the time in quarantine with a story about a mysterious creature called the Ickabog.
John Phillips/Getty Images

In the middle of writing Harry Potter novels, J.K. Rowling began work on a new book called The Ickabog, which she read to her children in installments as a bedtime story and planned to release once Harry Potter was behind her. Instead, she ended up taking a well-earned hiatus from publishing children’s books that lasted more than a decade.

Today, however, Rowling announced that not only will she publish The Ickabog, but she’s doing it for free as a serialized novel online. The first two chapters have already been posted on The Ickabog website, and you can look forward to a new section each weekday between now and July 10, 2020. The story, which isn’t related to Harry Potter or the Wizarding World, takes place in the fictional kingdom of Cornucopia, where King Fred the Fearless rules with his best friends, Lords Spittleworth and Flapoon, by his side. There, a young boy named Bert Beamish is terrified by the legend of the Ickabog, a mysterious, malevolent creature that allegedly snatches up unsuspecting children all over the countryside. According to Rowling, the story is about “truth and the abuse of power,” and it’s best suited for children up to age 9.

This November, the book will be published in print, e-book, and audiobook formats, and Rowling will donate all author royalties to as-yet-unspecified “groups who’ve been particularly impacted by the pandemic.” She’s also asking readers to enter their illustrations of the story in a competition for a chance to be featured in the print edition this fall. Suggestions of what images the publishers might need for each chapter are listed on the website—the first two chapters, for example, call for pictures of King Fred and his friends, the Ickabog, a map and flag of Cornucopia, Lady Eslanda, and pastries, cheese, sausages, and wine—but it’s made clear that “nobody should feel constrained by these ideas.”

You can find out more about The Ickabog, read the story, and enter the illustration competition here.