SMITH, Charles.

Three Tracts on the Corn-Trade and Corn-Laws:

1. A short essay on the corn-trade and the corn-laws … first printed in 1758. 2. Considerations on the laws relating to the importation and exportation of corn … wrote in the beginning of the year 1759. 3. A collection of papers relative to the price, exportation, and importation of corn … To which is added, a supplement. Containing several papers and calculations which tend to explain and confirm what is advanced in the foregoing tracts. The second edition, corrected and enlarged.

London: J. Brotherton, 1766 Stock Code: 122563
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Celebrated by Hume and Smith

Second edition of Smith's three celebrated tracts on the corn trade, praised for their sound reasoning by both Hume and Adam Smith, bound first in a volume of five popular works discussing food scarcity, the pricing of provisions, and magistrate intervention in the market place, published 1766-68.

"The scarcity of corn in 1756-7 and its high prices had led to food riots in several parts of England, making it the subject of much comment in the newspaper and pamphlet press. Many writers declared the season one of artificial scarcity and laid the blame for disorder at the door of farmers, millers, and bakers, aided by middlemen and speculators, who held back supplies from the markets in anticipation of still higher prices. Smith's response was to write A Short Essay on the Corn Trade and Corn Laws (1758), which argued that the scarcity had been in the main a real one, occasioned by deficient harvests in the west and north-west parts of England over the preceding three or four years and a general shortfall in the harvest of 1756, and defended as legitimate the actions of the middlemen. This work attracted much attention and praiseDavid Hume wrote an admiring preface for the Edinburgh editionand was followed by a second work of 'considerations on the corn laws' (1759), which was privately circulated. In 1766 both these works were reprinted with additional material as Three Tracts on the Corn-Trade and Corn-Laws His work is still cited by modern historians of agriculture and the corn trade" (ODNB), and McCulloch calls his tracts "the best of the earlier works on the corn trade" (p. 68).

Additionally bound in this volume are the following works, characteristic examples of the public discussion in the newspaper and pamphlet press surrounding the scarcity and disorder of the corn trade at the time:

a) ANON. Three letters to a member of the honourable House of Commons, from a country farmer, concerning the prices of provisions London: printed for J. Brotherton, 1766. First edition. Goldsmiths' 10181; Higgs 3646; Kress 6392.

b) ANON. Observations and examples to assist magistrates in setting the assize of bread made of wheat, under the statute of the 31st George II. Together with tables First printed in 1759. London: printed for J. Brotherton, 1766. Second edition. Goldsmiths' 10197; Higgs 3684; Kress 6371.

c) JENYNS, Soame. Thoughts on the causes and consequences of the present high price of provisions. The fourth edition. London: printed for J. Dodsley, 1767. Goldsmiths' 10316; Higgs 4050n. Not in Kress.

d) ANON. An answer to a pamphlet, intitled, "Thoughts on the causes and consequences of the present high price of provisions;" in a letter, addressed to the supposed author of that pamphlet. London: printed for W. Bingley, 1768. First edition. Goldsmiths' 10439; Higgs 4326; Kress 6515.

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Octavo (204 x 125 mm). Contemporary speckled calf, red morocco label, compartments ruled in gilt, raised bands, gilt fillet border to boards, edges sprinkled red.


Engraved head- and tailpieces.


Armorial bookplate of William Henry Tuesly to front pastedown. Extremities rubbed, spine ends and corners professionally restored, boards and spine a little marked, endpapers browned from turn-ins, text block fore edge varnished, tear to title leaf skilfully repaired, otherwise a very good internally clean copy.


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