The Preservation of Favoured Traces, now as a poster and book
Hot off the press—and just in time for the holidays—are two print projects that look at the six editions of Charles Darwin's, On the Origin of Species. Originally developed as an interactive piece, we decided to continue our tradition of producing and selling unique printed artifacts. And as always, all of the proceeds from this work will be donated to charities focused on education, science, music, art, food, and homelessness.
The Preservation of Favoured Traces (book detail)

Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species in 1859, and continued revising it for more than ten years. As a result, his final work reads as a composite, containing more than a decade’s worth of shifting approaches to his theory of evolution. In fact, it wasn’t even until his fifth edition—published ten years after the original book—that he introduced the concept of “survival of the fittest.” By color-coding each word of his final text by the edition in which it first appeared, our interactive and print representations of Darwin’s work trace the evolution of his thoughts and revisions, showing that even today’s most established scientific theories underwent major changes before becoming accepted or absolute ideas.

The original interactive version was built in tandem with exploratory and teaching tools, enabling users to see changes at both the macro level, and word-by-word. The printed poster allows you to see the patterns where edits and additions were made and—for those with good vision—you can read all 190,000 words on one page. For those interested in curling up and reading at a more reasonable type size, we’ve also created a book.

The Preservation of Favoured Traces (poster)

The poster measures 24 by 36 inches and is printed on Bright White Finch Fine 80lb cover. The type is set in Bell Centennial, a typeface that maintains legibility at very small sizes. We pushed the limits of this typeface at a very tiny 2.8 points. This allows the color-coded type to be seen as stripes of color from far away, but when you get very close to the print you can still make out all the words. The poster is printed using six unique Pantone spot colors to allow the text the cleanest detail possible. Purchase a copy of the poster here.*

The Preservation of Favoured Traces (book cover)

The 6 by 9 inch hardcover book is printed on demand, and sold through Blurb. Printing on demand means each book is printed individually for you. The type is set in Century Schoolbook at 9.75 points for a more pleasant reading experience, and contains the unique color-coded edition highlights. Purchase your copy here.

To see the full project description and to explore the interactive version, please visit our project page.

Happy holidays from all of us at Fathom!

*As of 2022, we no longer sell our posters online, but office visitors may get a special goodie bag...

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