Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth


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Item#: 106027 price:$1,800.00

Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth


[MAITLAND, James] EARL OF LAUDERDALE. An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, and into the Means and Causes of Its Increase. Edinburgh and London: Arch. Constable and T.N. Longman & O. Rees, 1804. Octavo, contemporary marbled boards rebacked in three-quarter brown calf, black morocco spine label. $1800.

First edition of James Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale’s controversial dispute with Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, in which he argues against Smith’s concept of “value."

James Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale, "has been hailed as a forerunner of Keynes, in as much as he argued that over-saving was a distinct possibility and that public spending was required to offset private thrift if stagnation was to be asserted" (Blaug). In 1796 Maitland called the attention of the House of Lords to the state of the public finances. At the time he did not offer a formal resolution, choosing to embark on a series of writings on the subject. In 1804 he published his Inquiry, which attracted considerable attention with its challenge to "Adam Smith's proposition that every saver is a public benefactor." Maitland also disagreed with Smith's contention that there is never "too much" capital (Niehans, 86, 80). For Maitland, "wealth is everything that possesses utility; but individual riches possess utility and scarcity. These two elements determine value" (Roll, 307). "Lauderdale's importance in the history of economics lies… in the fact that he was the first in England to consider systematically the fundamental conceptions on which the science is based. In this respect alone he is in advance of Adam Smith" (Palgrave II: 574). Large folding table at rear; bound without half title. Kress 4816. Goldsmiths 18801. Bookseller ticket.

Text fresh and clean, only lightest rubbing to boards. A fine copy.

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