London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1784. Third edition, with additions. Speckled calf over boards. Octavos. 1) viii, 499; 2) vi, 518, Appendix ; and 3) v, [blank], 465, [blank], Index , [1 (ad)] pages. Near fine. All three volumes were rehinged and given sympathetic gilt-stamped spines, likely in the early 20th century. Original speckled calf boards retained. Mild extremity wear to board fore corners. A couple of endpapers show slight separation along inner hinges but bindings remain sturdy. Interiors nearly free of foxing. A handsome and impressive set of this important Enlightenment work.
An uncommon but particularly interesting and important edition of "Wealth of Nations," whose first edition was 1776. Smith made several additions for this edition, including a new chapter "The Conclusion of the Mercantile System." It was this particular edition (the first in octavo format) which so impressed Thomas Jefferson when he acquired a set for his own library while in France between 1784 and 1789.
Adam Smith's groundbreaking treatise rejected the mercantile system and instead recognized and promoted an economics based on human nature, the division of labor, and the flow real goods and services without centralized market direction.
The mercantile system had measured a nation's wealth by the physical stocks of gold and silver in its treasury, whereas Smith's radical notion was to recognize that precious metals were only the medium of exchange--that wealth actually resided in the production and exchange of goods and services in an open market.