BABBAGE, Charles (1792-1871). On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. London: R. Clay for Charles Knight, 1832.
8o (222 x 141 mm). Engraved title page by J. Bate. (Some pale foxing on title-page and A1, one fore-margin torn from rough opening.) Original publisher's mottled purple cloth (spine and cover edges slightly faded, touch of wear to head of spine); folding cloth case.
Provenance: M. Boulton, perhaps the son of Matthew Boulton, partner of James Watt in his development of the steam-engine: author's presentation inscription on front flyleaf ("M Boulton Esqre from the Author").
LARGE-PAPER PRESENTATION COPY OF BABBAGE'S MOST IMPORTANT PUBLICATION. In the course of his work on a difference engine, or calculating machine, Babbage engaged in an extensive study of industry in Britain and on the Continent. After touring factories, examining machines and analyzing industrial processes, he wrote this book, which is "at once a hymn to the machine, an analysis of the development of machine-based production in the factory, and a discussion of social relations in industry" (A. Hyman, Charles Babbage, Princeton 1982, p. 103). The first part of the work is concerned with the physical processes of manufacture, and the second, longer part treats the organization of industry, aspects of commerce, what was later called scientific management, and the application of science to industry. With the publication of On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Babbage established himself as an expert in political economy. The work influenced both John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx.
"According to an autograph note by Babbage's son Henry in another large paper copy of this work, a total of 3,000 copies of the first edition were issued on 24 June 1832 and the edition was sold out in two months. It is probable that only a few large paper copies were sold" (Norman). These large paper copies were presumably reserved for presentation. Unlike the Norman copy, which was rebound in contemporary half calf, this copy remains in its original moiré cloth. Einaudi 224; Goldsmith 27346; Kress C.3013; Norman 92.