John Law’s

John Law’s

Money and Trade

This first edition of John Law’s seminal work on banking and monetary theory is extremely rare, with only one copy traced at auction since 1975. It was a highlight in our July 2022 auction of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

Published anonymously in Edinburgh after Law’s return from exile on the continent (he had been sentenced to death at the Old Bailey in 1694 for killing a man in a duel), Money and Trade’s chief argument is that ‘an expansion in the money supply would produce an expansion in output, which [Law] considered erroneously would lead to an export surplus’ (ODNB).


LOT 121 | LAW, JOHN | MONEY AND TRADE CONSIDERED | Sold for £23,125*


View Lot 121 ⇒


In the same year as Money and Trade, Law unsuccessfully presented his idea of a land bank to the Scottish parliament; he eventually found approval for the idea in France, where a general bank was established at his prompting in 1716. The following year he oversaw the establishment of the Compagnie d’Occident, known to posterity as the Mississippi Company. The collapse of the resulting bubble in 1720 led to Law’s resignation and disgrace, and he died in poverty in Venice in 1729.

Adam Smith presented the Mississippi Bubble as a lesson in the perils inherent in Law’s advocacy of the unlimited expansion of paper money. Modern authorities from Schumpeter onward have emphasised the originality and importance of Law’s contributions to monetary theory. A major recent study of John Law concluded that:

‘Money and Trade is a majestic work towering over the contemporary writings of the early eighteenth century … Law … produced a highly innovating approach to macroeconomic theorizing embracing such new discoveries as:

1) The money-in-advance requirement.

2) The circular flow of income.

3) The further analysis of international inflation in a money supply and money demand framework.

4) The formulation of the law of one price for a small open economy.

These are all major theoretical contributions which … entitle Law to consideration as an exceptional monetary theorist’ (Murphy, John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-Maker, 1997, p. 77).



Auction Information


Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Live Online | Edinburgh


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Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps


Lyon & Turnbull’s dedicated team of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps specialists have established an international reputation for their auctions, selling both through our UK auction house, and via live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on books and manuscripts, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to the successful sale of fine antiquarian books, modern first editions, folios, autographed letters and important archives.


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Dominic Somerville-Brown



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0131 557 8844






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