The Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh has decided to "kick-start" a fundraising drive (to pay for building renovations) by selling of its first edition copy of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae (1735), the Scotsman reports. The exceptionally fine, large-paper copy of the seven-leaf broadsheet pamphlet will be Lot 110 at Christie's Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale on 14 November.
Systema Naturae, in which Linnaeus outlines his biological classification scheme, is expected to fetch up to £200,000.
Attempting to justify the sale of such a spectacular piece from their collection, RCP librarian Iain Donaldson said "As a charity the college does not have the funds with which to meet its desire to develop further its collection for a wider audience. We therefore took great care in considering what historic items of high value, if any, could be sold from the collection which would further our aims and not deny access to users. In selecting the copy of Linnaeus we recognised that this was a high-value scientific item which was non-medical and which would not adversely affect our collection, particularly as there is another copy available to users, locally and nationally, in the University of Edinburgh library."