LONDON : A microscope Charles Darwin gave his son Leonard and which has remained in the family for nearly 200 years is headed for auction in December, and is expected to fetch up to US$480,000.
The instrument was designed by Charles Gould for the firm Cary around 1825 and is one of six surviving microscopes associated with the British naturalist, according to auction house Christie's.
The date of its manufacture coincides with the time when Darwin was studying zoophytes, organisms such as coral and sea anemone.
"It is just incredibly spine tingling to look through this and see the microscopic world that Darwin would have seen in the 1820s and 30s," James Hyslop, Head of Department, Scientific Instruments, Globes & Natural History, at Christie’s, told Reuters.
"Later in his life in 1858, there's a wonderful letter that he writes to his eldest son saying young Lenny was dissecting at his microscope and he said 'Oh Papa, I should be so glad of this for my whole life'. It's wonderful to have that family connexion of Charles Darwin just before he becomes internationally famous."
Darwin published his groundbreaking work "On the Origin of Species" in 1859.
The microscope will be offered at Christie's Valuable Books & Manuscripts auction on Dec. 15, and has a price estimate of 250,000 - 350,000 pounds (US$343,050 - US$480,270).
"Charles Darwin is one of the biggest names in the history of science, and collectors for Darwiniana (relating to Darwin) are truly international in breadth," Hyslop said.
(US$1 = 0.7288 pounds)
(Reporting by Marissa Davison; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mike Collett-White)