Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Darwin first print up for auction

Darwin first edition
Charles Darwin's book is still in the original cloth jacket

A first edition, first issue of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection is up for auction in Norfolk.

Just 1,250 copies of the work were produced in its first print run in 1859 and sold out immediately.

All existing copies are highly valued according to Keys of Aylsham who will auction the book, owned by a Norfolk resident, on 30 April.

The book, still bound in its original cloth, is expected to fetch 25,000.

Andrew Bullock, book specialist at Norfolk auctioneers Keys, said: "It is the most important biological book ever and one of those rare occasions when the white gloves really do go on before you pick it up and you handle it with reverence.

"It is a definitive work and what every serious bibliophile wants is a first edition, first issue copy and this is a must-have for the very best shelf.

"A book like this only comes along very rarely and when it does it is considered so important it is often acquired by institutional libraries from around the world."

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