SMITH, Adam (1723-90). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1776.
2 volumes, 4° (303 x 240mm). With the half-title only in volume 2, as issued, and the final blank in volume 1, adverts printed on verso of last leaf in volume 2. (A few leaves lightly and evenly browned, occasional light scattered spotting, occasional light marginal soiling, a few short tears and small losses expertly repaired.) Red straight-grained morocco by Riviere and Son, the sides and spines gilt with triple fillets, the spines lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, gilt dentelles, contemporary cloth slipcases also by Riviere (cloth cases lightly soiled and with the spines lightly faded). Provenance: Mortimer L. Schiff (1877-1931, banker and philanthropist; label in volume 1) -- John M. Schiff (label in volume 2) -- Bertha Salin, née Schiff (by repute) -- Edgar Salin (1892-1974, economist; thence by descent to the consignor).
[With:] -- autograph letter signed ('Adam Smith') to Archibald Davidson, dated Custom House, Edinburgh, 17 November 1788, on his re-election to a University post, one page, 4to, window-mounted on a blank (short tears of which one repaired, small losses near the seal).
FIRST EDITION. 'THE FIRST AND GREATEST CLASSIC OF MODERN ECONOMIC THOUGHT' (PMM). The Mortimer Schiff copy, and later in the collection of Edward Salin, Professor of Economics at Basel University. WITH AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED from Smith to Archibald Davidson, Principal of Glasgow University, apparently discussing Smith's rectorship of the University: 'I am certainly too much flattered by being unanimously re-elected to what, I think by far the greatest honour that ever was conferred upon me, to have any hesitation about acceptance'. In his Wealth of Nations, Smith '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... 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' (PMM). A TALL COPY WITH FINE PROVENANCE. Goldsmiths' 11392; Grolier English 57; Kress 7621; PMM 221; Rothschild 1897. (2)