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SMITH, Adam.

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

In three volumes. A new edition.

Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas Dobson, 1796 Stock Code: 139123
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Early American edition in unrestored American binding

Second American edition, in an unrestored contemporary American binding, of the "greatest classic of modern economic thought" (PMM), following the first American edition of 1789, and its first publication in London in 1776. The volumes show evidence of early American ownership, the front free endpapers with the ownership signature and note of purchase dated 31 December 1824 of Orange W. King, later listed as a New Jersey attorney, together with his stamps to a few early text pages, and the mid-19th-century bookplate of "the Library of the Hemmendingers at Bernardsville" (New Jersey) to the front pastedowns.

In his Wealth of Nations, Smith "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 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" (PMM). "The Wealth of Nations had no rival in scope or depth when published and is still one of the few works in its field to have achieved classic status, meaning simply that it has sustained yet survived repeated reading, critical and adulatory, long after the circumstances which prompted it have become the object of historical enquiry" (ODNB).

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3 volumes, duodecimo (172 x 102 mm). Contemporary American tree sheep, red morocco label to spines, smooth spines ruled in gilt.


Splits to a few joints but still firm, slight rubbing and patches of stripping to sheep, tiny patches of wear at extremities, yet bindings generally in nice condition; initial binder's blank excised in vol. III, light browning and foxing to contents as usual, tiny chip to vol. II pp. 83/84 not affecting text. A very desirable copy.


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