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° (275 x 220mm). Half-title in volume II only as issued, with cancels M3, Q1 U3, 2Z3, 3A4 and 3O4 in vol. I; D1 and 3Z4 in vol. II apparently uncancelled, advert. for Theory of Moral Sentiments on title verso and publisher's adverts on 4F2v in vol. II. (Occasional light spotting.) Contemporary mottled calf, narrow gilt border on sides, spine compartments gilt with red and green label (rehinged and repaired at spine ends, some light wear.) Provenance: errata corrected in manuscript -- secretarial inscription ‘From the Author’, to: -- Smith’s close friend and former pupil, Henry Herbert (1741-1811), Lord Porchester and 1st Earl of Carnarvon (Porchester bookplate).
PRESENTATION COPY of the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought. Smith's is the first major expression of the theory of free trade. He propounds a system of natural liberty and justice which strives towards improvement in the living standards of the population at large, equating higher wages with a healthier and more productive workforce. He expounds the belief that the limits to growth are political, not economic, and he sets out principles to guide legislators. Smith also provides a history of economic theory, an historical analysis of the wealth of nations, including China, and forecasts for the future.
Smith is known to have received a ‘a good number of copies to make presents of ‘ (Mossner and Ross, Smith Correspondence, Letter 179), yet NO OTHER PRESENTATION COPY IS RECORDED AS HAVING SOLD AT AUCTION IN OVER 40 YEARS. The present copy was presented to Henry Herbert (later Lord Porchester), described by Horace Walpole as ‘a young man of great fortune and good principles’. Herbert studied with Smith in 1762 at Glasgow University. Impressed by his student, Smith introduced him to David Hume, who equally found Herbert a ‘very promising young man’ (Letters 70-71). Herbert later served as Member of Parliament, Privy Councillor and Master of the Horse. The two men remained in contact throughout their lives. Goldsmiths' 11392; Grolier English 57; Kress 7621; PMM 221; Rothschild 1897.