RARE FIRST EDITION OF MASERES’ THE PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE-ANNUITIES, 1783
MASERES, Francis. The Principles of the Doctrine of Life-Annuities; Explained in a Familiar Manner, So As to Be Intelligible to Persons Not Acquainted with the Doctrine of Chances; and Accompanied with a Variety of New Tables of the Values of Such Annuities at Several Different Rates of Interest, Both for Single Lives and Two Joint Lives, Accurately Computed from Observations. London: Printed for B. White, 1783. Folio (9-1/2 by 12 inches), contemporary blue and brown paper boards expertly respined with original spine laid down, uncut and partially unopened. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $4200.
Rare first edition of this important early treatise on life annuities, with dozens of tables and mathematical formulas, in contemporary boards.
The author of this work, Londoner Francis Maseres, began his career as a member of the bar before quickly moving into political life. In March of 1766, he was appointed attorney general of the new British Province of Canada, which had been ceded by France through the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Maseres held the appointment until 1769 when he returned to London and became deeply involved in the American colonies, arguing that they should be allowed representation in the House of Commons. After the Revolutionary War, Maseres turned his attention back to Quebec, attempting to prevent a similar event in Canada. Maseres was known as a skilled and thoughtful writer, who produced dozens of works during his lifetime. “Priestley wrote of Maseres that his works in mathematics are ‘original and excellent” (Rutt, Life and Corresp. of Priestley, ii. 490 cited in DNB). He was equally engaged with issues of politics and social reform. This book, one of his best, combines all three subjects. It offers useful mathematically based charts and tables for the setting up and valuation of life annuities, which were used in the late 18th century as a primary form of retirement income and/or insurance. It remains useful today as a historical artifact of the industry and for its still relevant insights into a business that continues to thrive. This book is exceptionally rare; no copies have sold at auction in nearly 30 years.
Only a few spots of foxing to interior, light rubbing and soiling to binding. An extremely good copy.