A rare letter from Adam Smith is expected to fetch up to £40,000 when it comes up for auction later this month.
The letter, signed and in Smith’s own hand, is to the British statesman and diplomat William Eden written in the aftermath of the loss of Britain’s American colonies and it will go under the hammer on June 18 at Bonhams Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs sale in London.
In 1778, Smith was appointed to a post as Commissioner of Customs in Scotland, following great success with his magnum opus “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, which was published in 1776.
In the letter, written from Edinburgh on Tuesday, December 9, 1783, Smith promises Eden that he will endeavour to answer “all the questions you have done me the very great honour to ask me concerning our future Commercial connexions with our thirteen revolted Colonies”.
Smith opens with an apology for the delay of submitting reports as requested, explaining the clerks had it all of Sunday, adding: “The report of the board of Customs here, concerning the proper method of preventing smuggling, is likely to be so perfectly agreeable to my own ideas, that I shall not anticipate it by giving you any account of them. You will receive it in a day or two after the accounts.”
Experts at Bonhams say letters by Adam Smith are extremely rare.