23 April 2001
RICARDO, David (1772-1823). On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. London: John Murray, 1817.
8o. (Without the publisher's advertisements at end.) Contemporary half calf, grey paper boards, gilt spine (a trifle rubbed).
Provenance: John Hales Calcraft: 19th century armorial bookplate -- [Christie's London, 28 June 1995, lot 275, to Quaritch]
FIRST EDITION OF RICARDO'S FUNDAMENTAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE SCIENCE OF ECONOMICS. The son of a Dutch Jewish banker who had emigrated to England and made a fortune on the London Stock Exchange, Ricardo entered his father's business at the age of 14. Forced to set up on his own following a break with his father occasioned by his conversion to Unitarianism and marriage to a Quaker, Ricardo became immensely wealthy. He retired at the age of 42, pursuing his economic studies and entering Parliament. An advocate of free trade who was convinced by the arguments of his friend Thomas Malthus, Ricardo built on the work of Adam Smith while defining the scope of economics more narrowly, including little explicit social philosophy. He is credited with the first systematic and scientific approach to economics. "Ricardo saw the study of economics as a pure science whose abstractions were capable of quasi-mathematical proof... The fundamental ground-work of the Principles is based on 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, nor one capable of absolute expression, but one which was given new force by the theory of distribution with which Ricardo reinforced it" (PMM). FINE. Kress B7029; Goldsmith 21734; PMM 277.
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