Rare chance to see Adam Smith artefacts in exhibition and at special viewing day

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Adam Smith’s landmark anniversary celebrations continue with an exhibition of artefacts linked to Kirkcaldy’s greatest son.

The tercentenary of the globally renowned economist and philosopher was marked with a week of events staged across the Lang Toun, but there is still more to see with Kirkcaldy Galleries hosting an exhibition.

Highlights include a rare first edition of Smith’s landmark text on economics – An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations - and also on show is a snuff box bearing Smith’s initials and a pewter inkwell said to be used as he wrote The Wealth of Nations.

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Visitors can also see two of the few surviving images of Smith, a medallion by the sculptor James Tassie and a copy of an engraving by the caricaturist John Kay. Beside them is a portrait by the German artist Conrad Metz of Smith’s mother, Margaret Douglas, who was widowed just weeks before Smith’s birth. Next to her portrait is a copy of a drawing of the house at 220 High Street – now demolished – where Smith grew up and, from which, he made the short walk each day to the Burgh School.

Adam Smith with the Wealth of Nations, inkwell, Tassie medallion and snuff boxAdam Smith with the Wealth of Nations, inkwell, Tassie medallion and snuff box
Adam Smith with the Wealth of Nations, inkwell, Tassie medallion and snuff box

Visitors can access audio recordings offering perspectives on Smith and his influence. They include interviews with Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and Kirkcaldy MP. Curators from OnFife, which runs Kirkcaldy Galleries, are also inviting people to view seven books from Smith's personal library. They include a school text book, signed by Smith in 1733, and a volume by the philosopher John Locke that includes Smith's own hand-written annotations –providing rare insights into the workings of a great mind.

The viewing day is being held on July 27 at OnFife's Collections Centre in Glenrothes, where the texts are stored. To book a slot, or arrange a viewing on another day, email [email protected]

Gavin Grant , OnFife collections team leader says: “Very few artefacts associated with Adam Smith survive, so these personal objects have an extra resonance during this special anniversary year. It’s amazing to think that the inkwell and snuff box in our display would have been by Smith’s side as he wrote what is arguably the most important work of economics ever produced.”

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