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Auction Name: 2020 March 4 Rare Books Signature Auction Books Signature Auction - New York

Lot Number: 45117

Shortcut to Lot: HA.com/6222-45117

[Sébastian le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban]. Projet d'une Dixme Royale. Qui supprimant la taille, les Aydes, les Doüanes d'une Province à l'autre, les Décimes du Clergé, les Affaires extraordinaires; & tous autres Impôts onereux & non volontaires: Et diminuant le prix du Sel de moitié & plus, produiroit au Roy un REVENU CERTAIN ET SUFFISANT, fans frais; & fans être à charge à l'un de fes Sujets plus au'à l'autre, qui s'augmenteroit confiderablement par la meilleure Culture des Terres. [Rouen?]: [publisher not identified], 1707. First edition, first state, with p. 16, line 17 reading "le feptier pefant net cent foixante & dix livres," later corrected to "deux cens quarante livres" in a second state (a point according to BnF). Quarto (9.625 x 7.125 inches; 244 x 180 mm.). [8], 204, [20, index and errata] pages. Head- and tail-pieces, decorated initials, and tables, including a folding table at page 192. Contemporary speckled calf; decorative gilt paneling at spine with five raised bands and a reddish-brown calf spine label, lettered in gilt; gilt fillet decorations. All text block edges trimmed and sprinkled red. Plain endpapers. Hairline cracks to surface of calf along spine; wear resulting to small areas of loss to surface of calf, particularly over bands, where calf is worn through in a few tiny spots; spine ends chipped away; wear along joints, with small crack starting at foot of front joint; rubbing, scratches, and some staining to boards, with a few gouges at front exposing board underneath; wear to board edges resulting in some loss to gilt fillet decorations and exposure of boards; corners bumped. Minor discoloration to endpapers and to first and last few leaves of text block from offsetting of calf turn-ins; text block edges softly dulled; some mild rippling to pages (could have occurred during binding process); sparse, mild age spotting scattered throughout interior; slight rumpling to one corner of folding table, where it extends past edge of text block. Overall, a clean, bright text block in very good condition, in a good, sound binding.

Sébastian Le Prestre de Vauban, Marquis de Vauban and Maréchal de France (1633-1707), was a renowned French military and civil engineer with a long career under the reign of Louis XIV. Projet d'une Dixme Royale advances an overhaul of the suffering French economy and its "unwieldy and irrational" tax system through the implementation of a universal income tax (Schumpeter, p. 204). Vauban supported his idea with copious in-text statistical documentation, "[basing] his conclusions in every detail on numerical fact" - a pioneering move in the development of the field of economics (p. 204). According to A. Michel de Boislisle in his La Proscription du Projet de Dime Royale et la Mort de Vauban (Paris: 1875), the original manuscript was completed near the end of 1699, and after rejection from the king and government, underwent a revision that was completed in 1704 (p. 2-4). Toward the end of 1706, the book was secretly printed without permission in Rouen, intended to be disseminated by hand among Vauban's social circle. It was subsequently smuggled into Paris and bound by a woman known only as the widow of Fétil. Word of the unauthorized publication spread, and on February 14, 1707, the Privy Council ordered the seizure and destruction of all copies (p. 15). Of a reported print run of 276 copies, 264 were destroyed, and Vauban died on March 30.

A rare surviving copy of the first edition, first state of this suppressed work, "one of the outstanding performances in the field of public finance, unsurpassed, before or after, in the neatness and cogency of the argument" and "creditable alike to the heart and the head of its illustrious author... [who] did not suffer his respect for his prince to efface his sense of the duty which he owed to his country" (Schumpeter, p. 203-204; McCulloch, p. 343). Only one auction record of the true first in Rare Book Hub, and two holdings listed on WorldCat. Boislisle, La Proscription du Projet de Dime Royale et la Mort de Vauban; Kress 2583; Goldsmiths 4431; McCulloch, The Literature of Political Economy, pp. 342-343; Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, pp. 203-204.

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