AN INFLUENCE ON RICARDO: REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF SECRECY ON THE BULLION CRISIS OF 1797, SCARCE FOLIO FIRST EDITION
(BANK OF ENGLAND) (PARLIAMENT). Report of the Lords’ Committee of Secrecy. Ordered to be Printed 28th April 1797. BOUND WITH: Third Report of the Committee of Secrecy [of the House of Commons]. Ordered to be Printed 21st April 1797… [London]: no publisher, (1797). Folio, contemporary three-quarter calf, red morocco spine label, marbled boards. $2500.
Scarce first edition of the results of the Secret Committee’s investigation of the Bank of England’s bullion crisis, with folding tables of accounts, in contemporary binding.
By 1797 England’s war with France had drained the gold reserves. The Government prohibited the Bank from paying its notes in gold; the House of Lords and the House of Commons both commissioned Secret Committees charged with examining and stating the total amount of outstanding demands on the Bank of England and the funds available for discharging these debts. The House of Lords’ Secret Committee’s report includes minutes of evidence and papers and accounts; the House of Commons’ Secret Committee’s third report includes minutes of evidence and an appendix (the first and second reports, not present here, were only two pages long). Both reports include numerous tables of accounts, many folding.
This banking crisis influenced a number of important 19th-century economic thinkers, perhaps most notably David Ricardo. “Ricardo was led to the study of money and banking and the mechanism of international payments by urgent questions of the day. He had witnessed the great currency upheavals connected with the wars and had seen the suspension of cash payments in 1797, the great depreciation of paper money, and the marked rise in prices which followed it. In The High Price of Bullion, published in 1809, he explained that these phenomena had been caused by an over-issue of paper money. He… proposed that the Bank of England should gradually reduce the amount of notes in circulation until the price of gold had been brought down to its previous level… the essence of Ricardo’s theory was accepted by the Bullion Committee, and subsequent banking legislation, particularly the resumption of cash payments in 1822, reflect strongly the Ricardian influence” (Roll, 173). Both reports include numerous tables of accounts, many folding. Kress B.3415. Goldsmiths 17009; 17007.
Contemporary binding slightly worn, joints tender but cords sound. Text fine. Very good condition. Very scarce.