PLAYFAIR, William.

For the Use of the Enemies of England. A Real Statement of the Finances and Resources of Great Britain; illustrated by two copper-plate charts.

London: Printed by C. Whittingham; and sold by John Stockdale, 1796 Stock Code: 131438
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Britain's strong position

First edition. The title is ironic - the author holds that the alarmist tracts of his contemporaries, which bemoaned the danger of Britain's ballooning national debt, were bolstering the nation's adversaries by portraying Britain in a weaker economic state than she in fact was. Playfair instead presents the "Enemies of England" with a vision of Britain's strong economic position, perfectly capable of many more years of war, and argues that the sinking fund established by Richard Price had rendered the national debt benign.

The inventor of statistical graphs, William Playfair (1759-1823) invented the series line graph, the bar chart, and the pie chart "without significant precursors" (ODNB). He published many books and pamphlets incorporating such charts and graphs, holding that they were the best means of displaying empirical data, yet met with indifference in his own time. Two line graphs are present in this work: the first illustrating the progress of the respective revenues of England and France from the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century, and the second showing the rise of Britain's exports over the 18th century. The pamphlet is uncommon, with ESTC listing nine copies in American institutions and three in Britain; this copy is especially desirable with the two plates clean and without tears.

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Octavo (212 x 127 mm). Recent quarter calf to style, red morocco label, marbled sides, vellum tips.


With 2 folding hand-coloured plates.


Contemporary ownership signature obscured by early hand at head of title page. Light soiling to initial and final leaves and minor fraying around page extremities. A very good copy.


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