“AMONGST THE FATHERS OF ECONOMIC SCIENCE”: SCARCE FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF SAY’S TREATISE ON POLITICAL ECONOMY, IN CONTEMPORARY CALF
SAY, Jean-Baptiste. A Treatise on Political Economy; Or the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth. London: Longman, et al., 1821. Two volumes. Octavo, contemporary full brown calf gilt rebacked with original spines laid down, raised bands. $17,500.
First edition in English of this important contribution to the study of market economics, in contemporary calf.
Say was among the first to divide the field of economics into the areas of production, distribution and consumption, to discuss the role of the entrepreneur, and to incorporate those ideas into a framework of laissez-faire liberalism. Of additional importance was his emphasis on utility as the determinant of value. "Say is usually ranked with Smith and Ricardo amongst the fathers of economic science… He was in the true sense of the word the leader of a school—of the liberal and optimistic school, the influence of which was so great in France… and is even now felt. It is he, more than any other writer, who impressed on political economy the character of a natural science…" (Palgrave II, 357). "Say is considered to have brought out the importance of capital as a factor in production more distinctly than the English economists, who unduly emphasized labour" (Ingram). While most view Say as a French classical economist—a member of the school of classical liberalism—his contributions to Austrian economics have recently come into focus. At least one Libertarian scholar has gone so far as to call him a "forgotten early Austrian," due to his work championing laissez-faire (Larry Sechrest, Von Mises Institute). While Sechrest admits that there is no direct line between Say and Mises, he also notes the divergence between Say and Smith and Say's adoption of scientific, reality-based economics. Indeed, many of Say's beliefs on money, including his support of something akin to a parallel gold standard, are similar to those of prominent Austrians. Murray Rothbard, often called the Father of Libertarianism, praised Say's approach to economics as being quintessentially Austrian, particularly his support of a low tax, low spend policy for government (Evert Schoorl). Goldsmith 23137. Kress C777. Niehans, 110-15. Armorial bookplates and presentation labels of Bishop John Trower.
Scattered foxing, mainly to preliminary and concluding leaves, light wear and a few scrapes to contemporary boards. An extremely good copy.