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Darwin Correspondence Project

From V. O. Kovalevsky   10 September 1872

London | 218 Euston Road.

10 Sept. 72.

Dear Sir

As I expected I found letters from my brother stating that he is intent at all events to bring the Russian edition out, should You give Your permission for doing so; besides as a means for You to form an estimate as to the amount that may fall to our common profit and the share You will think fair he sends me the following estimate furnished to him by the printer.—1

Estimate for 2000 copies.—

Printing 3£. p. sheet — 75.

Paper 100 reams at 12/ — 60

Corrections?? — — 15

Binding — — 25

Satinage2 of papers and sundries 10

£ 185

Besides the cost of printing we have:

Translation 4s the page — 80

Casts from Murray — 103

Heliotypes 2000 150

Transport of casts & Heliot.

to S Petersb. — 10

£ 250

185 £. 435.

The highest price that could be possible fixed for such a book in our country is 7s 6d; 33% is given to the booksellers the net price is 5s. per copy or £500 for the 2000.— Trying to make an edition of 3000, as he intents, we shall have 75£. per heliotypes more and £40 for paper and printing the cost will be £.550, but the return £750 or 200£. net profit.—4 This expected profit he is quite willing to share in the manner You will think fair.—

The price of the book could not on any account be more than 7s. 6d and, even at this, comparatively high price for Russia, we may expect a pirated edition with bad woodcuts or without them at 3s. or so.5

Still dear Sir You are perfectly free to dispose of the translation as best You like if You find the given estimates unsatisfactory, if not I will call on You one morning and settle this affair finally.6 I looked over Wund’s book but did not find much that would be of any immediate use for You, still I marked in the second volume some points page 1–40 and more from page 320 to the end.7 There is still less in the first vol., but I will look it over and send to You one of these days.—

Your very truly | W. Kowalevsky

P.S. The letter You received seems to me to come from a lady, she wishes certainly, having the proof-sheets, to offer the translation to some editor.8


Kovalevsky’s brother was Alexander Onufrievich Kovalevsky. CD had already agreed that V. O. Kovalevsky would translate Expression into Russian and had discussed the costs and distribution of profits in general terms (see letter to V. O. Kovalevsky, 10 August [1872]).
Satinage is the German term for calendering, that is, finishing or glazing the surface of paper using moisture, heat, and pressure (Chambers s.v. calender).
In his letter of 6 August 1872, Robert Francis Cooke proposed a £10 charge for electrotypes of the woodcuts for all the translations of Expression.
Kovalevsky had originally planned to publish 1000 copies, with the possibility of increasing this to 3000. The production costs were partly determined by the number of copies of the photographic plates, which were being printed by the Heliotype Company. See letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 8 August [1872].
Kovalevsky had informed CD that two cheap pirated editions of Descent had appeared in Russia besides his own translation (Kovalevsky trans. 1871–2; see letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, [before 8 August 1872]).
CD had received another request for a Russian translation of Expression (see letter from N. Sobko, 3 September 1872).
Kovalevsky had recommended that CD read Wundt 1863 for its relevance to Expression (see letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 8 August [1872] and n. 9).
Letter from N. Sobko, 3 September 1872. In a letter to his brother A. O. Kovalevsky of 19 September [1872], Kovalevsky reported that CD ‘had received a letter from a Russian about the translation and passed it on to me and told me he answered that he had given the translation and the rights to me’ (Gaisinovich ed. 1988, p. 199). CD’s letter to Sobko has not been found.


Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Wundt, Max Wilhelm. 1863. Vorlesungen ueber die Menschen- und Thierseele. Leipzig: L. Voss.


Alexander [Kovalevsky] is intent on assisting Russian publication of Expression. Sends estimates of costs and profits. At 7s 6d per copy a net profit of £150–200 is expected.

Wilhelm Wundt [Menschen und Thierseele (1863)] probably of no use.

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Euston Rd, 218
Source of text
DAR 169: 93
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8516,” accessed on 3 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20