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EDEN, Sir Frederick Morton.

The State of the Poor:

or a history of the labouring classes in England, from the Conquest to the present period; in which are particularly considered, their domestic economy, with respect to diet, dress, fuel, and habitation; and the various plans which, from time to time, have been proposed and adopted for the relief of the poor: together with parochial reports relative to the administration of work-houses, and houses of industry; the state of the Friendly Societies, and other public institutions; in several agricultural, commercial and manufacturing, districts. With a large appendix; containing a comparative and chronological table of the prices of labour, of provisions, and of other commodities; an account of the poor in Scotland; and many original documents on subjects of national importance.

Published: London: by J. Davis, for B. & J. White, G. & G. Robinson, T. Payne [& 4 others in London], 1797

Stock code: 40703

Price: £10,000

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First edition of this classic of social and economic analysis, the fruits of Eden’s pioneering and privately-financed inquiry begun during the period of acute grain scarcity in 1794–5, which gives unrivalled statistical and anecdotal data on contemporary living standards. Eden was an adherent to Adam Smith’s system of natural liberty in economic affairs; “this led Karl Marx to claim that Eden was the only eighteenth-century disciple of Smith to produce a work of any significance” (ODNB).

3 volumes, quarto (268 213 mm). Early 19th-century tan calf, covers with single-line gilt rules, spines gilt in compartments, contrasting labels, date in gilt at foot, buff endpapers, sprinkled edges. Bound without half-titles, but with all the extra leaves (3L3, v.2; 5B*–5B†4, v.3), including the binder’s instruction leaf. Book labels. A little rubbed, an excellent copy in a handsome near-contemporary binding.

Bibliography: Einaudi 1714; Goldsmiths' 17107; Kress B.3384; McCulloch, pp. 285f; Printing and the Mind of Man 249.

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