VAUBAN, Sébastien Le Prestre de

Projet d'une dixme royale:

qui supprimant la taille, les aydes, les doüanes d'une province à l'autre, les décimes du clergé, les affaires extraordinaires; & tous autres impôts onereux & non volontaires: Et diminuant le prix du sel de moitié & plus, produiroit au Roy un revenu certain et suffisant, sans frais; & sans être à charge à l'un de ses sujets plus qu'à l'autre, qui s'augmenteroit considérablement par la meilleure culture des terres.

[Rouen: no printer,] 1707 Stock Code: 122434

A classic of public finance

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Very rare first edition, first issue (with B4 in uncancelled state: on p. 16, a setier is given as weighing 170, rather than 240 pounds, here corrected in a contemporary hand), and a notable rarity, of "an erudite economic work much in advance of its time, and distinguished both by accuracy of method and breadth of view" (Palgrave), "creditable alike to the heart and the head of its illustrious author"(McCulloch).

Carpenter lists six other printings dated 1707, all in smaller format, and eight subsequent editions before 1710, including the English translation A Project for a Royal Tythe (1708; reissued in 1710 as An Essay for a General Tax). "Though the book was published anonymously, and only a few copies issued for circulation among friends, Vauban had to submit to the mortification of seeing it 'pilloried' by the parliament, while he himself incurred the displeasure of the king Louis XIV. A few weeks later he died" (Palgrave).

Although the renowned soldier-engineer Vauban (1633-1707) wrote on a very wide variety of subjects apart from economics, the Projet d'une Dixme royale is an outstanding work in the field of public finance. Its two most notable features are its understanding of the central role of fiscal policy in economic reform - the result of an exceptionally comprehensive grasp of the economic process - and its use of detailed numerical data to substantiate conclusions. Schumpeter pronounced the work "unsurpassed, before or after, in the neatness and cogency of the argument Nobody ever understood better the true relation between facts and argument. It is this that makes him an economic classic in the eulogistic sense of the word, and a forerunner of modern tendencies" (History of Economic Analysis, p. 204).

According to Boislisle, the first edition was printed in Rouen in 1706 at the initiative of the Abbé de Beaumont (who is actually credited with the authorship of the work by Boisguilbert). Vauban had the sheets bound by the widow of a certain Fétil, and took great pains that the book did not have any public circulation. It was prohibited on 14 February 1707, but apparently the police were only able to seize two copies (described as in "veau fauve" and marbled parchment). To the police, the binder declared she had had 264 copies in total, 12 bound in morocco, the rest in calf.

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Quarto (241 x 190 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, spine elaborately decorated gilt in compartments, red morocco label, sprinkled edges.


Large folding table, "Formulaire qui peut servir pour tout un pays", at page 192.


Very skilful repairs to spine ends and corners; some light spotting, stronger in places; a very good copy.


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