Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth


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Item#: 51024 price:$1,800.00

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MAITLAND, James. An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, and into the Means and Causes of Its Increase. Edinburgh: Arch. Constable; London: T.N. Longman & O. Rees, 1804. Octavo, contemporary full polished brown calf gilt, red morocco spine label. $1800.

First edition of the Earl of Lauderdale’s discourse on public wealth, in which he argues against Adam Smith’s concept of “value.”

In 1796 James Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale, called the attention of the House of Lords to the state of the public finances, but at the time did not offer a formal resolution. Instead he embarked upon a series of writings on the subject. In 1804 he published his Inquiry, which attracted considerable attention, partly because in it Maitland chose to criticize Adam Smith as “the person who has struggled most to establish the opinion, that labor may be considered as an accurate measure of value.” For Maitland, “wealth is everything that possesses utility; but individual riches possess utility and scarcity. These two elements determine value” (Roll, 307). Maitland also disagreed with Smith’s contention that there is never “too much” capital and that every saver is a public benefactor (Niehans, 80, 86). Large folding table at rear. Kress 4816. Goldsmiths 18801.

Interior fine. Front inner hinge reinforced, only minor scuffing to spine of contemporary calf. A near-fine copy.

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