An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy; Being an Essay on the Science of Domestic Policy in Free Nations.

STEUART James (1767.)

£14000.00  [First Edition]

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First edition. Two volumes. Large 4to. [Text: 292 x 230 mm]. [i-iii], vi-xv, [i errata], [xii (contents)], 639, [1 (blank)]; [16], 646, [12 (index)], [1 (errata)], [1 (blank)] pp., folding letterpress tables to rear of both volumes. Margins of the titles lightly browned by the turn-ins; slight knock to the upper fore-corner of the first few leaves of Vol. 2. Fine copy in contemporary polished calf, smooth spines divided into six panels and filled with elaborate gilt neoclassical tooling, lettered in gilt on red and green morocco labels, spot-marbled endpapers, yellow edges (neat repairs to the corners and headcaps, headbands renewed, a few slight scuffs on the covers).

London: printed for A. Millar, and T. Cadell,

First edition of the masterpiece from this important proto-economist. “Sir James Steuart had the misfortune to be followed by Adam Smith in less than a decade. Otherwise [Steuart’s Inquiry] would probably have served as the standard English economic text” (Carpenter). Its later influence "proved to be most considerable on the continent. During the 1770s the text was translated into German (twice), and into French in 1789. One authority has noted that ‘until the final decade of the eighteenth century, Sir James Steuart’s Inquiry was better known and more frequently cited than Smith’s Wealth of Nations’ (Tribe, 133). The admiration of the members of the nineteenth-century German historical school is now well known. Steuart’s historical and cosmopolitan perspective later attracted the well-documented attention of Marx, while it is known that Hegel spent some three months studying one of the German editions. But perhaps the most intriguing link is with North America. The Dublin edition of the Inquiry (1770) was widely circulated in the colonies. The book also attracted the attention of Alexander Hamilton, whose protectionist position was adopted with a view to counterbalancing the competitive advantages of the British economy in the years following the treaty of Paris (1783)." (ODNB).


Beside an early neat ink price-cost at the head of the front flyleaf of Vol. 1 there are no marks of ownership.


Blaug, Great Economists before Keynes, pp. 241–2; Einaudi 1527; Goldsmiths’ 10276; Kress 6498; Palgrave III, pp. 475–6; Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, p.176.


Stock Code: 239645

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