February 2012 Auction Ends Tuesday, February 28th, 5pm Pacific


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/28/2012
Fascinating Maurice Wilkins autograph manuscript signed, dated 10 June 1999. Highly detailed manuscript discusses a June 1950 letter Wilkins wrote to Francis Crick regarding DNA research developments; included is a photocopy of that original letter. Manuscript has numerous references to Rosalind Franklin - whom some credit with first discovering the DNA helix - and details of the working relationship between the DNA scientists - Watson, Crick, Franklin and others. Reads in full: "This letter to Francis Crick was written after I had moved from my sister's flat to the flat 184 Tottenham Ct Rd which Francis knew about because his friends that occupied [it] were leaving for S. Africa. Very good central position for me. Letter written a month or 2 after I obtained the very high quality Signer DNA which I discovered could form spiders web thin fibres which by mid summer [Raymond] Gosling & I had shown to have a clear crystalline structure. I was very excited that the fibres could be stretched forming long thin necks in which the molecules were 1:70 the length of unstretched. This effect reversed in moist air & showed fairly certainly that the DNA molecules were extended in length. It seemed like the important extension of protein fibres from a --> B chain structure. Unfortunately we found no very clear diffraction pattern from the extended DNA form. [Margin note: "the stretching of DNA fibre pointed to the flat bases in DNA sliding & tilting; an important idea."] In the last few years new techniques which can pull single DNA molecules have shown an extension like the one I found in 1950. Half a century on! We published a paper in Nature alongside infrared results in our own lab by Fraser. This letter is written about 6 months before my colleague Stokes had noted helical signs in the crystalline DNA pattern. A year later Rosalind Franklin began X ray work in our lab and using new facilities, (micro camera & micro focus X ray tube, which was much better than our 1950 preliminary X ray equipment) discovered a 30% change in length of DNA fibres with well defined patterns (A + B) of both of the 2 lengths. That change in structure of DNA was very important in pointing Crick & Watson towards the Double Helix. My 1950 sketching of DNA was some help to Watson & Crick but was not so important as the A-B lengthening with humidity changes. Certainly DNA seems a very mobile macromolecule, and where the recent work on stretching will lead I do not know. Although my 1950 discovery seems to have been a bit before its time(!) possibly it will now become important in casting light on structural changes in DNA which are an essential part of its biological activity. The end of my letter 'love to Odile and down with science' is largely a joke but to some extent I did have an ambivalent attitude to science. [William] Astbury was able to use his a-B protein change because the protein chains were simpler than the DNA." Manuscript measures 8.25" x 11.5" on one page and is signed, "Maurice Wilkins". Fine condition.
Maurice Wilkins Autograph Manuscript Signed -- "…A year later Rosalind Franklin began X ray work in our lab...was very important in pointing Crick & Watson towards the Double Helix…"
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Auction closed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
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