Adam Smith's Wealth Of Nations First Edition To Be Sold For £50,000

Private Collection
Private Collection

A rare first edition copy of Adam Smith's The Wealth Of Nations valued at £50,000 is to be sold at auction.

First published in 1776, the book's full title is An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations and explores issues such as the division of labour, productivity and free markets.

The work by Scottish economist and philosopher Smith reflects on economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and is one of the world's first assessments of what creates wealth within a nation.

The Wealth Of Nations, as it is commonly known, helped earn its Fife-born author the label of the father of modern economics and continues to be held in high regard.

Simon Vickers, book specialist at auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, said Smith wrote the book during a 10-year period in his home town of Kirkcaldy.

He said: "Smith challenged the prevailing mercantilist economic philosophy, in which people saw national wealth in terms of a country's stock of gold and silver and imports as a danger to a nation's wealth, arguing that in a free exchange both sides became better off.

"Quite simply, nobody would trade if they expected to lose from it. The buyer profits, he argued, just as the seller does. Imports are just as valuable to us as our exports are to others.

"Because trade benefits both sides, Smith argued, it increases our prosperity just as surely as do agriculture or manufacture.

"A nation's wealth is not the quantity of gold and silver in its vaults, but the total of its production and commerce - what today we would call gross national product."

The copy has been valued at between £30,000 and £50,000 and will go under the hammer in Edinburgh on Wednesday September 4.

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