Description

    First Edition of the Second Volume
    of Adam Smith's
    Wealth of Nations

    Adam Smith. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1776. First edition. Quarto (volume II only). Approximately 10.75 x 8.5 inches. [iv], 587 [1, publisher's ads] pages. Half-title restored on the fore-edge margin. Endpapers present and no additional blanks, otherwise collates complete. Half contemporary leather over paper boards. This volume is challenged, obviously having been through a fire at some point. Binding defective and heavily worn, with boards detached and much of spines and boards perished. Edges very dark and sheets browned around the margins, staining sometimes minimally creeping into the sheet margins (about a quarter inch at the worst examples). General soiling and spotting to the sheets, and very occasional foxing. A few corners folded over or creased. Dampstains to top margins of pages 271-281, Small hole upper-right corner of B1 (pages 1-2) and larger hole to gutter margin of Bbb3, small hole to fore-edge margin of Ddd3, small worming holes to gutter margin of pages 427-432, two inch tear to fore-edge margin of Ttt4, Zzz4 a cancel. A poor copy with serviceable sheets. This copy of Volume II is an obvious candidate for rebinding and should be seen, sold with all faults.

    More Information: Adam Smith (1723-1790) spent ten years in the writing and perfecting of The Wealth of Nations. "The book succeeded at once, and the first edition was exhausted in six months...Whether it be true or not, as Buckle said, that the 'Wealth of Nations' was, 'in its ultimate results, probably the most important that had ever been written'...it is probable that no book can be mentioned which so rapidly became an authority both with statesmen and philosophers" (D.N.B.). "The history of economic theory up to the end of the nineteenth century consists of two parts: the mercantilist phase which was based not so much on a doctrine as on a system of practice which grew out of social conditions; and the second phase which saw the development of the theory that the individual had the right to be unimpeded in the exercise of economic activity. While it cannot be said that Smith invented the latter theory...his work is the first major expression of it. He begins with the thought that labour is the source from which a nation derives what is necessary to it. The improvement of the division of labour is the measure of productivity and in it lies the human propensity to barter and exchange...Labour represents the three essential elements-wages, profit and rent-and these three also constitute income. From the working of the economy, Smith passes to its matter-'stock'-which compasses all that man owns either for his own consumption or for the return which it brings him. The Wealth of Nations ends with a history of economic development, a definitive onslaught on the mercantile system, and some prophetic speculations on the limits of economic control...The Wealth of Nations is not a system, but as a provisional analysis it is complete convincing. The certainty of its criticism and its grasp of human nature have made it the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought" (Printing and the Mind of Man).
    Grolier, 100 English, 57. Kress 7261. Printing and the Mind of Man 221. Rothschild 1897.


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    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
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