"MEN… GO MAD IN HERDS": RARE AND IMPORTANT FIRST EDITION OF MACKAY'S POPULAR DELUSIONS, A SIGNIFICANT FORCE IN CHARTING THE STOCK MARKET
MACKAY, Charles. Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions. London: Richard Bentley, 1841. Three volumes. Octavo, 20th-century three-quarter green morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $18,000.
First edition of this highly entertaining and exceptionally influential early study of crowd behavior, a long-standing and classic guide to both popular psychology and the stock market.
Charles Mackay, a noted Scottish poet and journalist, attempted in this work to document and explain major "popular delusions" or seemingly irrational instances of mass action and belief. "Men," the author contends, "think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds." In developing his theories of mass behavior, Mackay analyzes a breadth of historical examples ranging from witch hunts, alchemists, and famous haunted houses to the South Sea Bubble of 1720 and the Crusades. The impact of Mackay's work has been remarkably far-reaching, influencing such diverse fields as popular psychology and the charting of the stock market—as noted by The New York Times, which urged: "Any investor who has not read Charles Mackay's 'Tulipomania,' from his classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions, first published in 1841, should grab this book for that exercise alone." With five engraved portraits—a frontispiece in each volume, and two additional portraits in Volume III. Without half titles. Norman 1406. Kress C.5560.
Repair to title page of Volume III, interiors quite clean; handsome morocco binding with expected toning to spines. An exceptional copy.