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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alexander Agassiz   10 September [1871 or 1873]1

Down | Beckenham. Kent

Sep. 10.

My dear Mr Agassiz.

I have received a short time ago the several very valuable works mentioned in your circular and which have been so magnificently sent me by your Father and the Museum of Comp: Zoology— At the bottom of the Circular, works in Exchange are asked for—2 Would my Journal of Researches—Origin of Species, Variation of Animals & Plants under Domestication, & Descent of Man, be of any use? If so I would send them; but the American Editions are so very much cheaper, that it would save me a good deal of money if you would instruct your Clerk to tell me what the cost of the whole is in America,3 I could easily procure & send dollars by-which they could be purchased, and this would cause very little trouble.— But I fear that these books would be of very little use—

Pray believe me, yours sincerely & obliged. | Ch. Darwin.


The possible years are established by the references to Descent, which was published in February 1871, and to Louis Agassiz, who died in December 1873. Louis Agassiz was on an expedition to South America and the Galápagos from December 1871 to October 1872 (Marcou 1896, 2: 183–91).
The circular and the works mentioned in it have not been identified. CD refers to Louis Agassiz. The circulars published by Alexander Agassiz on behalf of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University were often requests for specimens, facts, or books, and American publications were offered in return (Dana Fisher, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, personal communication).
In the UK, Journal of researches (1870) sold for 7s. 6d., Origin 5th ed. sold for 14s., and Origin 6th ed., which came out in 1872, sold for 7s. 6d. Variation sold for £1 8s., and Descent sold for £1 4s. (R. B. Freeman 1977.) In the US, D. Appleton & Co. sold Journal of researches US ed. (1871) and Origin US 2d ed. for $2 each (Publishers’ and Stationers’ Weekly Trade Circular 2 (1872): 708). Variation US ed. sold for $6 (American Agriculturalist 27 (1868): 341), and Descent US ed. sold for $4 (Publishers’ and Stationers’ Weekly Trade Circular 2 (1872): 708). Agassiz’s clerk has not been identified.


Discusses exchange of books.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alexander Agassiz
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 9
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7932,” accessed on 24 April 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19