20 October 1999
RICARDO, David (1772-1823). On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. London: John Murray, 1817.
8 (210 x 128mm). (Occasional very light spotting, without advertisements at end.) Contemporary polished calf, sides with single gilt fillet (neatly rebacked to style and recornered).
FIRST EDITION, earlier issue with the word 'differently' on the last line of 2P7. Like his father before him, Ricardo was a hugely successful member of the London stock exchange. After reading Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations in 1799, he became interested in the scientific analysis of economic questions, and in 1809 published some letters on the state of the currency in the Morning Chronicle. In 1810 appeared The High Price of Bullion, a proof of the depreciation of bank notes, and the following year Charles Bosanquet's attack on the report of the famous bullion committee was countered by Ricardo's brilliant Reply to Mr. Bosanquet's Practical Observations on the Report of the Bullion Committee (1811). In 1815 his Essay upon the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock appeared, and in 1816 his Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency. Urged by his friends, especially James Mill, to publish a more systematic exposition of his theories, Ricardo then wrote his main work The Principles of Political Economy. The funamental basis of the Principles is described in PMM as 'the theory that, given free competition in trade, the exchange value of commodities will be determined by the amount of labour expended in production: not a wholly original thesis, not one capable of absolute expression, but one which was given new force by the theory of distribution with which Ricardo reinforced it ... Lacking Smith's warmth of sympathy for humanity and for the labourer in particular, Ricardo saw the study of economics as a pure science whose abstractions were capable of quasi-mathematical proof. Although his theorems remain hypothetical, his deductive methods have proved of great use in the elementary analysis of economic problems ....'. 750 copies of the first edition were printed. Further editions of 1000 copies each appeared in 1819 and 1921. Goldsmith's 21734; Kress B7029; Sraffa 5a; PMM 277.
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