And finally…Smith’s own copy of Wealth of Nations surpasses auction estimate

Adam Smith

One of only two copies of The Wealth of Nations personally owned by its Scots author and the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, has been sold at auction for £908,750.

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 rare first edition copy, which originally cost £1 16 shillings, was one of two Smith kept for his own library, the other now being lost.

The copy, owned by a private European collector, went under the hammer at Christie’s valuable books and manuscripts sale in London, estimated at £500,000 - £800,000.

A bidding battle, starting at £380,000, was finally won by an anonymous telephone bidder who paid a hammer price of £750,000,rising to £908,750 including premiums.

At the same auction, a 1776 letter from Smith to his publisher made £137,500.

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.”