"IN POLITICAL ECONOMY I THINK SMITH'S WEALTH OF NATIONS THE BEST BOOK EXTANT" (THOMAS JEFFERSON): 1791 EDITION OF WEALTH OF NATIONS
SMITH, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: Printed for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1791. Three volumes. Octavo, contemporary marbled boards sympathetically rebacked in speckled calf, red morocco spine labels.
Sixth edition of Smith's landmark work, the first published after his death—"the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought" (PMM 221)—an attractive copy in contemporary marbled boards.
"The tone of irreverent skepticism with which it describes the motives of men and governments has influenced the style of economic discourse to the present day… The historical importance of the Wealth of Nations is surpassed by no other economic book… Smith, for the first time, put together the body of economic knowledge that can still be recognized as an early form of what today may be called mainstream economics… There is little in Jean-Baptiste Say, Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill that is not, more or less directly, an elaboration of Adam Smith" (Niehans, 62-72). On publication of the first American edition, not long before this 1791 English edition, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "In political economy I think Smith's Wealth Of Nations the best book extant." "Where the political aspects of human rights had taken two centuries to explore, Smith's achievement was to bring the study of economic aspects to the same point in a single work… The certainty of its criticism and its grasp of human nature have made it the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought" (PMM 221). Smith's Wealth of Nations was an immediate success when first published in 1776, and four additional editions came out during Smith's lifetime. The 1776 first edition is exceptionally rare. Bound without half titles. Goldsmiths 14612. Kress B2209. Owner ink signature.
Foxing to first few leaves of each volume, text generally clean. A nicely rebacked copy in contemporary marbled boards.