An Inquiry in the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

SMITH Adam (1791)



Sixth Edition. Three Volumes. 8vo (215 x 135mm). Some foxing in places (less so in the second and third volumes). Contemporary tree calf, spines panelled in gilt with red and green morocco labels (expertly rebacked and repaired preserving the original spines, new green morocco labels).

London: for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell,

First published in 1776 this is the first edition to be published after Smith's death.

A pleasing copy of the sixth edition of Smiths monumental work on economics with an apt inscription from a "working man".

"The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations"(from Smith's introduction).

"The Wealth of Nations had no rival in scope or depth when published and is still one of the few works in its field to have achieved classic status, meaning simply that it has sustained yet survived repeated reading, critical and adulatory, long after the circumstances which prompted it have become the object of historical enquiry" (ODNB).

On the front flyleaf of the first volume is a presentation inscription reading: "Given [this is deleted and replaced with the grander] Presented to the / Torquay / Mechanics Institute / by a Working Man", there is also a large 19th-century Torquay Mechanics' Institute book label on each front pastedown with the rules and regulations of the institution; the first rule being that "the Library shall not contain any work on Controversial Divinity, PArty Politics, or that has an immoral tendency". We have had the book labels professionally lifted a little to reveal another inscription underneath the label in the first volume that reads: "Torquay / Mechanics' Institute / 3 weeks for Reading / Geo-?Lawill / Librarian". Under the labels in the second and third volume we found the presentation inscription by a "working man" but in a different hand, presumably the donor inscribed the first volume and it was then felt it should be copied into the other volumes.

The first meeting of the Torquay Mechanics' Institute was reported on 6 February 1834 when the library was opened. It was still active in 1860 when it received the library and property of a less successful body, the Torquay Working Men's Improvement Society. Contemporary newspapers report that a variety of lectures were delivered at the Institute ranging from a paper on Macbeth to a talk on Palestine. We have been unable to trace the librarian but the dates of service of the subsequent two librarian at the Institute suggest that Geo-?Lawill was the first librarian when the library opened in 1834.

There is also an old pencilled bookseller's price of 7/6 "for 3 vols" on the front pastedown

Stock Code: 63454

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