EXCEEDINGLY RARE ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF RICARDO’S ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION: “ITS APPEARANCE FORMED A NEW ERA” IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, WITH AN INSCRIPTION AND FROM THE FAMILY OF RICARDO’S GOOD FRIEND AND TRUSTED ALLY IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, LEADING BRITISH FINANCIAL EXPERT PASCOE GRENFELL, VERY SCARCE IN CONTEMPORARY CALF BOARDS
RICARDO, David. On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. London: John Murray, 1817. Octavo, contemporary brown calf early rebacked in elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, burgundy morocco spine label. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition of David Ricardo’s most important work, a cornerstone of economic theory— one of only 750 copies printed—an extremely rare association copy from the family of prominent British industrialist, financier and influential abolitionist, Pascoe Grenfell, close friend and political ally of Ricardo, containing the inscription, “This Book belongs to my Son Riversdale W. Grenfell, Pascoe Grenfell,” with Riversdale Grenfell’s bookplate, scarce in contemporary calf boards.
“David Ricardo is without doubt the greatest representative of classical political economy. He carried the work begun by Adam Smith to the farthest point possible… Ricardo, writing 50 years later than Smith, showed a greater insight into the working of the economic system… In the opinion of his own contemporaries at home and abroad, Ricardo was acknowledged the leader of the science… His most important work is On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, first published in 1817” (Roll, History of Economic Thought, 155-6). Ricardo had made a fortune for himself on the London Stock Exchange by the age of 25. “He now began to interest himself in scientific and mathematical studies, but after reading The Wealth of Nations he decided to devote himself to political economy… The fundamental groundwork 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 labor expended in production… [a thesis] which was given new force by the theory of distribution with which Ricardo reinforced it… Ricardo was, in a sense, the first ‘scientific’ economist… [His work] has proved of lasting value” (Printing and the Mind of Man 277).
“This is a most able, original, and profound work. Its appearance formed a new era in the history of the science” (McCulloch, 16-17). This especially rare association copy contains the bookplate of Riversdale William Grenfell, son of leading British industrialist and financial expert, Pascoe Grenfell—a trusted colleague of David Ricardo. On the initial blank leaf, opposite Riversdale Grenfell’s bookplate, is an inscription stating, “This Book belongs to my Son Riversdale W. Grenfell, Pascoe Grenfell.” “One of the leading speakers on financial subjects in the House of Commons,” Pascoe Grenfell was a friend and frequent political ally of Ricardo. “After Ricardo’s entry into Parliament Grenfell often sided with him on economic questions… It was at his suggestion that Ricardo undertook in 1815 to write a pamphlet attacking the policy of the Bank of England, which took shape in Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency.” When Ricardo asked Grenfell to read Proposals while still in manuscript, Grenfell reviewed it immediately and wrote Ricardo, deeming it “excellent’ (Works VI:3, 286). Pascoe was also a leader in the copper mining industry and an ardent British abolitionist whose “friendship with William Wilberforce led him to speak against the slave trade. Recognized as an expert on financial matters Grenfell was instrumental in the introduction of the periodical publication of accounts by the Bank of England, of which he was a vigilant observer. He was also governor of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company and a commissioner of the lieutenancy for London” (ODNB). Riversdale Grenfell followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a director of Royal Exchange Assurance Company. With four-line errata on verso of 2P7; without rear publisher’s advertisements. Kress B7029. Goldsmiths 21734. Additional early owner inscription in an unidentified hand. Early marginalia, lightly penciled underlining to a few leaves.
Interior fresh with only light scattered foxing, minor rubbing to scarce contemporary calf boards. A highly desirable near-fine copy with an important contemporary association.