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Collectible Alfred Russel Wallace



Most people have never heard of Alfred Russel Wallace. The British naturalist and biologist had a successful scientific career, yet never rose to mainstream appeal or fame. That being said, 2009 looks to be a very good year for Wallace, who died almost 100 years ago. Alfred Russel Wallace is the little known genetic researcher who published a theory on natural selection in the mid 1800s. While his theory received little widespread attention, several years later a similar theory was proposed by another English naturalist who is much more of a household name – Charles Darwin. The Origin of Species, Darwin’s paper on the topic proved to be the basis for the entire theory of evolution. Darwin was born in 1809, and The Origin of Species was published in 1859. Preparation for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the theory of evolution has caused much attention to be given to how the theory progressed, and, finally, some further recognition for Alfred Russel Wallace. In particular, comedian Bill Bailey has been working on a film script about Wallace.

Despite the lack of mainstream appeal, the works of Alfred Russel Wallace are both valued and collectible. His writings form a major

part of the creation of evolutionary theory. Of particular significance is the scientific article On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection, a journal article written jointly by Darwin and Wallace in 1958, just one year before The Origin of Species. This piece of scientific history is worth an astounding $112,860.

Another collectible item of Wallace’ is The Geographic Distribution of Animals. With a study of the Relations of Living and Extinct Fauns as Elucidating the Past Changes of the Earth’s Surface. Original 1876 editions of this paper are worth upwards of $4500 – although newer editions are available for as low as $30 for those wishing to familiarize themselves with Wallace’s research. Other collectible scientific publications by Wallace include Natural Selection and Tropical Nature, as well as Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. A Series of Essays. With a bit of luck, 2009 could be the year when Alfred Russel Wallace get some of the credit he deserves, even if it comes a full century late.

 

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