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SMITH, Adam.

Untersuchung der Natur und Ursachen von Nationalreichthümern.

Aus dem Englischen.

Leipzig: Weidmann Erben und Reich, 1776-1778-1792 Stock Code: 130228
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The first translation of the Wealth of Nations

First edition in German of the Wealth of Nations, constituting the first translation of the work, including both volumes of the text as published in 1776 and 1778, and complete with the third volume of additions and corrections, issued in 1792; preserved in an unrestored contemporary German binding.

The translation was undertaken by Johann Friedrich Schiller, a cousin of the poet Friedrich Schiller. The translation was completed "in two parts, Books I-III appearing within the same year that the original appeared, the second volume with Books IV and V then being published two years later. Schiller had worked in London, and was acquainted with the 'admirable author of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, whose personal appreciation and friendship he counted among the happiest circumstances of his life' preface to second volume, translated. He obviously maintained his connections in London, for he explains the delayed appearance of the second volume by his expectation that Smith, given the level of demand for his book, would quickly prepare a second edition taking account of comments from both English and German readers. However, Smith had returned to Edinburgh from London and taken a post there as Commissioner for Customs, which development prompted Schiller to proceed with his second volume, hoping that he could summarize the eventual revisions in a later supplement" (Tribe, p. 125).

Smith's corrected text was not published until the third edition in 1784, but the corrections were published separately in 1783 as Additions and Corrections to... the Wealth of Nations. Schiller's plan to publish the corrections in a supplement were delayed due to the poor sales of the first two parts of his translation, but was eventually published in 1792 as the third part. The third part was issued with unsold sheets of the first and second volume as a complete set, and was also probably available on its own. The publishers expected Condorcet's notes to be published as a second volume to this third part, the title page hence reading "Dritten Bandes. Erste Abtheilung", but as Condorcet's text never appeared, neither did the second volume.

The translation was positively reviewed, but the reviewers interpreted Smith as a Physiocrat, rather than recognizing him as a herald of a new school of economic thought. As of such, the sales were mediocre. Smith's reputation grew in Germany in the nineteenth century, and this was the first of fifteen German translations and editions up to the 1930s (Tribe p. 120).

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3 parts bound in 2 octavo volumes (201 x 119 mm). Contemporary marbled paper boards, green paper labels lettered in gilt, edges speckled brown.


Neat contemporary ownership signature "Müller" to front free endpaper of second volume. Paper covering worn around spines including loss to labels, but the bindings themselves still strong, contents toned as usual yet without marking. A very desirable set.


Goldsmiths' 11394; Kress S4873; Tribe 12 & 46. See Tribe, The German Reception of Adam Smith, in his Critical Bibliography, for the publication history.


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