London: J. Flesher for Robert Horne, 1669. 8vo. [vi], 186, 149-155 pp. (mispaginated, as usual). SECOND EDITION. Title printed within double-ruled border. Contemporary sheep, spine label; leaves slightly brown, small stain to A7-8, otherwise a very attractive copy preserved in a folding clamshell box. Item #17449
Second edition of the “bible of later mercantilists” (PMM), first published five years earlier. Mun here “more energetically and formally than before defined the doctrine of the balance of trade” (DNB). A Standing Committee of Trade was established to investigate a general trade depression in 1622. Mun, in providing testimony before the Committee, thought that the best way to increase wealth in the country was by foreign trade as well as working toward a trade balance, especially with the Dutch. This book reflects both his beliefs and testimony before the Committee. Ultimately hostilities led to formal trade wars in 1652 and again in 1665. “For those who want to read a single example of mercantilist writing, it is difficult to better Thomas Mun’s England’s treasure by forraign trade, completed in 1628 and published posthumously in 1664. Adam Smith at any rate regarded it as perfectly representative of a vast body of similar literature: ‘The title of Mun’s book,’ he said, ‘became a fundamental maxim in the political economy, not of England only, but of all other commercial countries’” (Blaug).
Mun (1571-1641) was a director of the East India Company and in addition to this work authored a book defending the Company’s monetary policies.