Essai sur la nature du commerce en général.
Traduit de l'Anglois.London Fletcher Gyles [but Paris : 1755 Stock Code: 137110
NotesFirst edition. This copy is one of a very small number to contain at the end a copy of Barrois's catalogue of publications for sale, which lists Cantillon's work with his initial.
Richard Cantillon (c.1680-1734) was an Irish-born banker and economist, forced to emigrate to continental Europe by the Williamite confiscations. He honed his financial skills working for the British army's paymaster-general during the latter stages of the War of the Spanish Succession. He next proved his understanding of the market by making fortunes speculating against John Law's Mississippi Company and by purchasing put options (the right to sell at a predetermined price) during the height of the South Sea Bubble. His successful speculations reinforced his view that the monetary system must be based on intrinsically valuable metals.
The Essai, Cantillon's only published economic work, carries the imprint of Fletcher Gyles, a leading London bookseller who had died some fourteen years earlier: actually the book was published clandestinely but with a "permission tacite" by Guillyn in Paris. Cantillon's Essai is notable for its model building, its analysis of market forces and the role of the entrepreneur, its outline of the circular flow of income, and its monetary theory. The Essai had a significant influence in developing Quesnay's circular flow of income and on Adam Smith's theory of resource allocation in the Wealth of Nations (1776). In distinguishing between market price and intrinsic value and showing how resources moved into those sectors where the market price was above intrinsic value, and away from those sectors where market price was below intrinsic value, Cantillon influenced Smith's famous distinction between market price and natural price. He also pre-empted later studies of human population, with a brief but almost complete anticipation of the principles of Malthus.
Duodecimo (165 x 97 mm). Contemporary French mottled calf, red morocco spine label, raised bands, floral motifs decoratively tooled to compartments in gilt, marbled endpapers, edges red, green silk book marker. Housed in a tan quarter morocco book-form solander box.
Woodcut title page device, head- and tailpieces.
A few small wormholes to the binding, lower joint split at foot, some very minor flaking along joints, endpapers and half-title browned from turn-ins, old library stamp, "Camera di Commercio di Roma Biblioteca", to title page, some light spotting in places, very short tear to lower edge of M1. Overall a very good copy, crisp with generous margins.
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