1776 - Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

The ideas that Adam Smith put forward in 1776 in his Wealth of Nations, principally that government should never interfere with free-market practice, form the basis of modern political economy. This is a rare - perhaps unique - copy of the first edition in its original paper-covered boards and with uncut pages.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) was one of the great innovative intellectuals of 18th-century Scotland, standing alongside the likes of the historian and philosopher David Hume. After professorships at Glasgow (1751-1764), he travelled for two years on the Continent as tutor to the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch. He then settled quietly in his home town of Kirkcaldy, Fife, where he wrote his classic work.

Before the 19th century, the publication and binding of books were separate activities. Books were sold in paper-covered boards, and their purchasers then had them bound to their own specification. Most pre-19th-century books survive in leather bindings (or, indeed, in later replacement cloth bindings). Books of this size in their original paper-covered boards are extremely rare, and give a vivid glimpse into 18th-century bookselling.

Adam Smith. An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. London, 1776 [Sa.1]

Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations


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