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“Wealth of Nations” Worth $1 Million? Why a Copy Is Expected to Fetch so Much at Auction

If you’re still searching for the perfect Christmas gift for the capitalist in your life, then Christie’s in London might have the solution.

Adam Smith’s personal copy of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is going up for auction on Dec. 12. — and is expected to fetch more than $1 million.

The Scottish Enlightenment philosopher’s magnum opus, first published in 1776, became the cornerstone of modern-day free trade and heralded the emergence of economics as an academic discipline.

Eugenio Donadoni of Christie’s 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.”

Financial Times reports Smith kept two copies of Wealth of Nations in his personal library, which contained thousands of volumes. The other copy of his own book, which last appeared at auction in 1959, has since been lost. “The Wealth of Nations is one of those books that has seriously rocketed in value over the past 10 years,” Christie’s book specialist Julian Wilson said. “About 20 years ago it would fetch around £20,000. These days it’s £100,000 just for an ordinary first edition copy.”

A first edition of the book sold in 2012 at Christie’s for £73,250; an 11th edition from Ronald Reagan’s collection sold for $27,500 in 2016.

Amid the United States’ escalating trade wars, might we suggest someone purchase it as a Christmas gift for President Donald J. Trump?

Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale on Dec. 12 also includes an inscribed first edition of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, which is expected to sell for £150,000 to £250,000.