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Essai sur la nature du commerce en général.

Traduit de l'Anglois.

London Fletcher Gyles [but Paris: Guillyn,] 1755 Stock Code: 142911
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Complete with the very rare Barrois catalogue identifying Cantillon as author

First 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.

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Duodecimo (165 x 95 mm). Contemporary mottled calf, red morocco label, gilt floral devices to compartments, marbled endpapers, red edges. Housed in a custom made wooden slipcase with sliding panel entrance.


Woodcut title page device, head- and tailpieces.


Joint ends and corners expertly restored, thus presenting nicely; minor horizontal crease and very light foxing to half-title and title, contents crisp and clean, a single, tiny round wormhole to head of textblock from page 185 on, just touching text below headline. A very good copy.


Books That Made Europe, p. 140; Cossa 243.1; Einaudi 846; En français dans le texte 159; Goldsmiths' 8989; Higgs 938; INED 933; Kress 5423; Mattioli 552; McCulloch 52; Sraffa 682.


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