"First and greatest classic of modern economic thought": First Edition of Adam Smiths Wealth of Nations
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Item Number: 5760
London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1776.
First edition of the economist’s magnum opus and cornerstone of economic thought. Quarto, 2 volumes. Bound in full brown calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, red morocco spine labels. In near fine condition. Remarkably clean throughout with some light toning to the title page of volume one and small stamp on the half title page of volume II. An exceptional example of this landmark work.
Adam Smith's masterpiece, first published in 1776, is the foundation of modern economic thought and remains the single most important account of the rise of, and the principles behind, modern capitalism. "The history of economic theory up to the end of the nineteenth century consists of two parts: the mercantilist phase which was based not so much on a doctrine as on a system of practice which grew out of social conditions; and the second phase which saw the development of the theory that the individual had the right to be unimpeded in the exercise of economic activity. While it cannot be said that Smith invented the latter theory...his work is the first major expression of it. He begins with the thought that labour is the source from which a nation derives what is necessary to it. The improvement of the division of labour is the measure of productivity and in it lies the human propensity to barter and exchange...Labour represents the three essential elements-wages, profit and rent-and these three also constitute income. From the working of the economy, Smith passes to its matter -'stock'- which encompasses all that man owns either for his own consumption or for the return which it brings him. The Wealth of Nations ends with a history of economic development, a definitive onslaught on the mercantile system, and some prophetic speculations on the limits of economic control...The Wealth of Nations is not a system, but as a provisional analysis it is complete convincing. The certainty of its criticism and its grasp of human nature have made it the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought" (PMM).