And finally…principle of supply and demand sees £1m sale expectation for Smith’s personal copy of The Wealth of Nations



Adam Smith

One of only two copies of The Wealth of Nations personally owned by its author and the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, is expected to fetch at least £800 million when it comes up for auction next month.

The Enlightenment leader took almost 10 years to write his opus at his mother’s Kirkcaldy home and his notes alone stretched over 17 years of meticulous research.

The Wealth of Nations (Image courtesy of Christie’s)

And ironically, as the only first edition left in existence, Smith’s economic concept of “supply and demand” means its value could well be pushed over £1 million when it is presented for sale at Christie’s in London - a far cry from the meagre £300 income that Smith initially received from its publication.

The book, currently owned by a private European collector, is one of just two that Smith kept for his personal library.

Published in 1776, the year America signed the Declaration of Independence and Britain was in the grip of the Industrial Revolution, it was the first major work to fully explore the fundamentals of what builds a nation’s wealth.

Smith’s work went on to survive 250 years of progress, wars, political upheaval and economic meltdowns to remain a bible for economists across the globe.

Even now it sits just behind a book written by one of his own followers – Karl Marx’s Das Capital – as the second most cited book in social sciences published before 1950.

Eugenio Donadoni, Christie’s head of sale, said: “The Wealth of Nations cast Adam Smith as an icon of economic liberalism, extolling as it did the necessity of free markets, the division of labour and the mutually beneficial character of exchange. This is a unique opportunity to acquire the author’s own copy of the foundational text of modern economic thought.”