London: Printed by Harding and Wright for John Murray, 1810.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003878
8vo (207 x 128 mm). iv, 48 pp., publisher's advertisement to title verso. Bound in later marbled calf, spine lettered and tooled in gilt, marbled endpapers (rubbing to extremities). Text with light even age-toning; title and final page a trifle dust-soiled; very minor spotting to first pages; final leaf repaired at gutter and with short clean tear close to paper reinforcement; title leaf with restored short clean tear at inner blank margin slightly touching first letters of printer's mark, also with a narrow stripe torn away from upper corner well away from printed area. Provenance: from the library of stock market expert Andre Kostolany with his engraved bookplate loosly inserted. ----
FIRST EDITION, AND OF EXCEPTIONAL RARITY. David Ricardo (1772-1823) sparked a momentous debate about English central bank policy, the "Bullionist Controversy", with this treatise. As a result, the treatise was quickly reprinted; the 4th edition was published in 1811 already. Ricardo and his partisans argued that the necessary convertibility of banknotes into gold should be restored in order to avoid inflation.
"This tract led the way in the far-famed bullion controversy. It issued from the press several months previously to the appointment of the Bullion Committee; and is believed to have had no inconsiderable effect in forwarding that important measure. In this tract Mr Ricardo showed that redundancy and deficiency of currency are only relative terms; and that so long as the currency of any particular country consists exclusively of gold and silver coins, or of paper immediately convertible into such coins, its value can neither rise above nor fall below the value of the metallic currencies of other countries, by a greater sum than will suffice to defray the expense of importing foreign coin or bullion, if the currency be deficient; or of exporting a portion of the existing supply, if it be redundant. But when a country issues inconvertible paper notes, (as was then the case in England), they cannot be exported to other countries in the event of their becoming redundant at home; and whenever, under such circumstances, the exchange with foreign states is depressed below, or the price of bullion rises above, its mint price, more than the cost of sending coin or bullion abroad, it shows conclusively that too much paper has been issued, and that its value is depreciated from excess" (McCulloch).
The first edition must have been printed in a very small number. JISC lists only one copy in the UK (University of Leeds Library); OCLC records no copy of the first edition in public institutions; KVK only knows of one copy in the Nationalbibliothek Wien (ÖNB) that has also been digitized. Beside these two, we know of only one other: the copy (no. 20107) in the Kress Library of Business and Economics, Harvard University.
References: Kress B 5728; Goldsmiths-Kress 20107; New Palgrave IV, 184; vgl. Einaudi 4735 (only knows the 4th edition); J. R. McCulloch (editor), The Works of David Ricardo, London, 1888, p. xvii. - Visit our website to see more images!
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