Knowledge Base

Rare Books


While some collections devoted to business history focus on rare books, i.e. pre-1850, we continue beyond that to add out-of-print and more recent books to enrich teaching and research in business and economics. We do not collect for the sake of rarity but for adding the depth of original texts by prominent individuals. The result is a unique blend of old and new books that supplement the holdings of the university library.

Our oldest book is Johannes Nider's De Contractibus Mercatorum, published in 1468 in Cologne by Ulrich Zell, and apprentice of Johannes Gutenberg. An English translation is available and one study of Nider's On the Contracts of Merchants indicates an emerging concern for caveat venditor in the fifteenth century. Written about 1430, the Nider book is suggestive of a need to further study the concern of scholastic scholars for business morality as commerce was developing in that century. Other incunabulae are Giorgio Chiarini's 1497 book published in Florence on trade customs in Italy and Bartholomeo di Pasi's 1503 writings about Italian tariffs and taxes. Highlights of other important items are listed below.

16th Century

  • Jean Nestor's study of the Medici family
  • de Veer's historical description of Africa
  • Luca Paccioli's Summa de arithmetica, geometria... - 1523 edition
  • Sir Thomas Gresham's Last Will and Testament - circa 1584
17th Century

  • Machiavelli - Discourses upon the First Decade of T. Livius (1636)
  • Thomas Hobbes - The Leviathan (1651); Human Nature: Or the Fundamental Elements of Polocie [sic] (1650); and Tripos (1684)
  • Sir Josiah Child - one of England's wealthiest businessmen of the 17th century, expresses his arguments for low interest rates, except for trade with the East Indies in 1681 and 1698 books
  • John Locke - Essay Concerning Humane Understanding (1694); Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693); and two books on the value of money and printed money
  • Sir William Petty - QuantulumCunque Concerning Money (1695)
18th Century

  • John Law - Observations on the new system of the finances of France (1720); Money and trade consider'd; with a proposal for supplying the nation with money (1720)
  • Bernard Mandeville - The Fable of Bees: or Private Vices, Public Vices (1728)
  • Francis Hutcheson - An inquiry into the original of our ideas of beauty and virtue (1729); A short introduction to moral philosophy, in three books (1747)
  • Sir Isaac Newton - uses his scientific skills to study the value of leaseholds and annuities (1731)
  • Jacques Savary des Bruslons - Dictionnaire Universal de Commerce (1748)
  • Richard Cantillon - The analysis of trade, commerce, coin, bullion, banks, and foreign exchanges (1759)
  • Benjamin Franklin - The interest of Great Britain considered, with regard to her colonies, and the acquisitions of Canada and Guadaloupe (1760)
  • Sir James Steuart - An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy (1767)
  • Pierre Samuel DuPont de Nemours - Mémoires sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Turgot, Ministre d’État (1782); Rapport fait au nom du Comité des finances, a l'Assemblée nationale (1790); Rapport sur le décret général, relatif aux départemens du royaume (1790)
  • Anne Robert Jacques Turgot - Theorie de l'interet de l'argent, tiree des principes du droit naturel, de la theologie & de la politique, contre l'abus de l'imputation d'usure (1780); Memoire qui contient les principes de l'administration politique (1790)
  • Adam Smith - An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776); Theory of Moral Sentiments (1791)
19th Century

  • Jean Baptiste Say - Traite d'Economie Politique, ou Simple Exposition de Maniere dont se Forment, se Distribment, et se Consommet les Richesses (1803)
  • David Ricardo - On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817)
  • Robert Owen - A new view of society; or, Essays on the formation of the human character preparatory to the development of a plan for gradually ameliorating the condition of manking (1818)
  • Matthew Carey - Address of the Philadelphia society for the promotion of national industry, to the citizens of the United States (1819); The new olive branch; or, An attempt to establish an identity of interest between agriculture, manufactures, and commerce ...(1820)
  • Charles Babbage - A comparative view of the various institutions for the assurance of lives (1826); On the economy of machinery and manufactures (1832); Thoughts on the principles of taxation, with reference to a property tax, and its exceptions (1848)
  • Andrew Ure - The philosophy of manufactures; or, An exposition of the scientific, moral, and commercial economy of the factory system of Great Britain (1835); A dictionary of arts, manufactures, and mines: containing a clear exposition of their principles and practice (1839)
  • John Stuart Mill - Essay on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (1844); On Liberty (1859); The Subjection of Women (1869); Principles of Political Economy (1848)
  • Amasa Walker - The nature and uses of money and mixed currency, with a history of the Wickaboag bank (1857); Chapters of Erie, and other essays (1871); The science of wealth: a manual of political economy, embracing the laws of trade, currency, and finance (1872)


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