Darwin's Origin Defense, With Signature, Goes Up for Bid

Paper was written for a celebrity magazine that reproduced autographs
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2022 4:45 PM CST
Written for Celebrity Magazine, Paper by Darwin Is Up for Sale

When Charles Darwin wrote a what-about defense of his theory of evolution in 1865, he made clear that he stood behind his work—he affixed his full signature to the document. A celebrity magazine that reproduced the autographs of famous people had asked for a sample of the biology influencer's handwriting, the BBC reports. Few such documents of Darwin's remain; he usually signed them "Ch," "C Darwin" or "Ch Darwin." On Friday, Sotheby's in New York opened bidding on the document at $500,000, with an estimated winning bid as high as $800,000.

Darwin didn't keep his writings, per Smithsonian Magazine. He threw the papers away, or his children drew or wrote on manuscripts that would now be worth a fortune. But Darwin turned this one over to Hermann Kindt, editor of the Autographic Mirror, for publication. It's not just a handwriting sample; it's an answer to doubts about his arguments in On the Origin of Species, which had come out six years before. A leading criticism at the time was that while his theory of evolution through natural selection might be valid, Darwin couldn't account for the origin of life. That's true, he wrote.

An academic who curates a Darwin collection points out that he had just read a biography of Isaac Newton. Darwin didn't mention Newton by name, but he evidently found inspiration in the biography. People might not quite understand the "essence" of gravity, Darwin wrote, but there aren't many doubts about gravity being real. "The same, he says, would be true eventually with evolution and natural selection," professor John van Wyhe told the BBC. Bidding closes on Dec. 9. Other items in the lot include a first edition of On the Origin of Species, per the Robb Report. (Read more Charles Darwin stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.