Estimated at £20,000-30,000 in a Bonhams (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) Knightsbridge sale of June 21 was the copy pictured above, with a dampstained upper cover and one gathering now slightly loose.
However, the title-page bears an 1859 ownership inscription of Charles Gatty, a Fellow of both the Linnaean and the Royal Geographical Societies whose interests included both zoology and geology. It made £84,000.
One week later, in a Thomson Roddick (17.5% buyer’s premium) sale in Carlisle, a copy with far more shortcomings managed to double the high estimate at £42,000.
Illustrated on the Previews pages of ATG No 2347, that copy had a binding that was worn, faded in places and showed some rubbing, bubbling, marking and the odd pin or wormhole. There was also some internal foxing and spotting, as well as a suspected weak hinge.
What is also quite remarkable is the manner in which this copy came to light. Asked to look at some books that had been stored in an attic since the 1970s, John Thomson was astonished to find this famous work among other books that he suggested might only be fit to be donated to a charity shop.