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DEFOE, Daniel.

An Essay on the South-Sea Trade.

With an enquiry into the grounds and reasons of the present dislike and complaint against the settlement of a South-Sea company. By the author of the Review.

London: Printed for J. Baker, 1712 Stock Code: 134890
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Defoe defends the South Sea Company

First edition of Defoe's tract on the newly-formed South Sea Company. Under the scheme, the British government transferred its debt to the Company, which was then given a monopoly of trade with South America. Defoe had supported a similar project in letters to Robert Harley, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he is on the whole supportive of the South Sea Company, although he raises many concerns with the project, not least over misguided speculators rushing in without knowledge - "Brewers, Bakers, Coopers, and the like, and an infinite Number of these; talk to these of a South Sea Trade is to talk Hebrew and Arabic: Like Esop's Cock, they spurn the Diamond with Contempt and will sell Two of them for an Handful of Barley" (p. 34). Nonetheless, Defoe's support for the Company intensified, and he continued to defend the Company even after the crash, continuing to blame the speculators, whom he mercilessly derided. Defoe sold his own stock in the company in 1719 before the bubble burst, although he missed out on the sky-high prices of the next year. Despite the imprint date, the pamphlet was in fact published 13 September 1711, with a second edition published on 30 October 1711. The tract is well-represented institutionally, but rare in commerce, last recorded at auction in 1972 (a copy lacking the half-title).

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Octavo (180 x 120 mm). Early 20th-century brown quarter calf, spine lettered in gilt, brown pebble-grain cloth sides, earlier red speckled edges.


Complete with the half-title.


Binding rubbed but sound, contents a little browned, cut close at head but never impinging on type. A very good copy.


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