This …Proposal for Supplying the Nation with Money, as the full title continues, was initially published anonymously in Edinburgh after Law’s return from self-imposed exile on the continent that followed his conviction at the Old Bailey in 1694 for killing a man in a duel, and the imposition of a death sentence.
Law’s chief argument is that an expansion in the money supply would produce an expansion in output, a view considered erroneous by some early critics.
In 1720 Law witnessed the collapse of the ‘Mississippi Company’ with which he was deeply involved.
That financial failure led to his 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, but some modern authorities have taken a different view and, said the saleroom in a lengthy and detailed catalogue entry, nowadays see Law as an exceptional monetary theorist.
This copy offered at the auction on July 13 originally belonged to William Paterson (1658-1719), a Scottish founder member of the Bank of England and writer on economic issues, but also the prime mover behind a disastrously unsuccessful Scottish settlement scheme at Darien in Panama.
Feeling of pleasure
A very different lot, an early (1755?) and seemingly very rare edition of John Cleland’s scandalous Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure took £18,000 in Edinburgh.
A document bearing the signature of Walter Raleigh that sold for £22,000 was the subject of a News report in ATG No 2552.