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Essai analytique sur la richesse et sur l'impôt,

où l'on réfute la nouvelle doctrine économique, qui a fourni à la Société Royale d'Agriculture de Limoges les principes d'un programme qu'elle a publié sur l'effet des impôts indirects.

London [but Paris?: no publisher], 1767 Stock Code: 135091
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The Abbé Morellet's copy

Rare first edition of one of the most important works written against the physiocrats, this copy from the library of Abbé André Morellet, with his engraved bookplate to the front pastedown.

One of the few enlightenment writers to live into and beyond the years of the Revolution and Napoleon, André Morellet (1727-1819) wrote numerous treatises in favour of economic liberalisation and contributed articles to Diderot's Encyclopédie. Morellet's library was vast - eventually numbering 4,718 items - and reflected "seven decades of reading by a diligent participant in the republic of letters", with "strong holdings of English-language works, Elzevir editions, and 18th-century publications on political economy. He monitored his library carefully, watching out for new volumes to be added, keeping his catalogue up to date, and making sure that borrowed items were returned" (Medlin, p. 574). The subsequent auction in 1819 raised a total of 22,169 francs; this copy was lot number 1370.

Graslin (1727-1790) was, from 1757, "receveur général des fermes" in Nantes. He was a steady and consistent opponent of the tenets of the physiocrats on the subject of the net product. Some physiocrats considered him a greater adversary than Forbonnais. This essay was written to prove two propositions: the first, that the produce of land is wealth even when there is no "produit net", namely when the cost of cultivation is equal to the value of the produce, and the second, that industry applied to raw material is as much wealth as the raw material itself. According to Schumpeter, "Graslin's reputation never was what it should have been because he put so much emphasis upon criticism of the physiocrats - which is the best ever proffered - that his readers were apt to overlook his positive contribution. Actually, his Essai analytique presents the outlines of a comprehensive theory of wealth as a theory of total income rather than of income net of all producers' expenses including wages - a not inconsiderable improvement considering the role the latter was to play later on. Also he was above his contemporaries in insight into the problem of incidence of taxation" (p. 175).

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Octavo (192 x 120 mm). Contemporary mottled calf, spine ruled and decorated in gilt, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers and edges, silk ribbon book marker.


Printer's device on title, decorative vignette chapter headings at the beginning of each part.


A printed slip pasted opposite the title reads: "On trouve des Exemplaires à Paris, chez Guillyn, Libraire; Quai des Augustins. Et à Nantes, chez la Veuve Vatar, & Fils, Libraires-Imprimeurs du Roi." A few wormholes to the front joint, repairs to head of spine, corners, and a couple of patches to rear board, pale dampstain to lower margin of a few leaves, and the odd spot; a very good copy.


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