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SMITH, Adam.

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

In Two Volumes. The Second Edition.

London: for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1778 Stock Code: 143239
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Contemporary binding in beautiful condition

Second edition of this classic of economic thought, a fine copy in a beautiful contemporary binding; one of 500 copies, the only other edition to be published in quarto format after the first edition of 1776.

"Where the political aspects of human rights had taken two centuries to explore, Smith's achievement was to bring the study of economic aspects to the same point in a single work. The Wealth of Nations first 1776 is not a system, but as a provisional analysis it is completely convincing" (PMM). As "the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought" (ibid.), it "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). For some time considered a straight reprint, the second edition in fact contains "a number of alterations large and small, some providing new information, some correcting matters of fact, some perfecting the idiom, and a large number now documenting references in footnotes" (Todd, p. 62).

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2 volumes, quarto (268 x 214 mm). Contemporary polished speckled calf, twin red and green morocco spine labels, latter with leaf and star gilt tooling, gilt double fillets to compartments, raised bands, gilt triangular roll to board edges, edges sprinkled red. Housed in a dark brown cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Engraved armorial bookplate of Merthyr Guest to front pastedowns. Binding in excellent and unsophisticated condition, with just a little negligible rubbing to extremities and a few light scuffs to boards, minor worming to ends of joints and endpapers, the latter lightly browned from turn-ins; contents remarkably bright and clean, the occasional gathering with very faint dampstain along top edge and a handful in vol. 2 slightly foxed, single short closed tears to vol. 1 R1-2 and vol. 2 3N3. A fine, crisp copy.


Einaudi 5329; Goldsmiths' 11663; Kress B.154; Tribe 15; Vanderblue, p. 3. See Printing and the Mind of Man 221 (first edition).


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