Smith's Wealth of Nations hammers for $72,000

A rare first edition copy of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations has hammered within estimate for £46,000 ($71,815) this afternoon (September 4).

Published in 1776 following a 10-year writing process, this example provided the highlight of Lyon & Turnbull's Rare Books, Maps & Manuscripts auction in Edinburgh, UK.

Adam Smith Wealth of Nations
Smith worked on The Wealth of Nations for 10 years

The Wealth of Nations is regarded as one of the founding books of modern economics.

Lyon & Turnbull commented prior to the sale: "[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 said, 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."

Another first edition of the work made $75,000 at America's PBA Galleries in the US last year.

Today's auction also featured an estimate-smashing performance for a handwritten and signed letter from Charlotte Bronte.

The 1853 letter, in which the author discusses her much-admired work, Jane Eyre, hammered for £24,000 ($37,468), doubling its £12,000 high estimate.

View our rare books and manuscripts for sale.

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