Catalogue of rare books

The Library houses the “corpus” of the array of books which belonged to Luigi Einaudi. It is a collection of about 7.000 rare volumes which represents one of the most prestigious set of works of economists in the world, almost all first editions. These are described in the Catalogo della biblioteca di Luigi Einaudi: opere economiche e politiche dei secoli XVI-XIX,  vols. 12, edited by Dora Franceschi Spinazzola, published in 1981, updated with a Supplementary volume published in 1991, used as a reference book in great libraries worldwide. 

Throughout the arc his life, Luigi Einaudi gathered together an extraordinary array of rare books, mostly on economics but also on political philosophy and history, especially history of Piedmont. Einaudi himself in Viaggio tra i miei libri explains how his library progressively came together: “A private collection […] is like a collector’s mirror. It contains the materials of their studies, the spiritual friends in whose company they lived and it conveys the authors and issues they were interested in. It has soul”.

Amongst the preferred themes of the Einaudian collection, physiocracy particularly stands out. A more complete group of writings by physiocratical economists could not be found in any part of the world, except for France.

Of great importance is also the collection of works by classic economists. In addition to the first edition of Political discourses  by David Hume (1752) there is another one of legendary rarity, the Essay sur la nature du commerce en général di Richard Cantillon (1755), whose bibliographical history has originated several disquisitions.

English classic economists are certainly well represented. Some twenty-seven titles by Adam Smith include Theory of moral sentiments (1759); the first and second editions of Wealth of nations (1776 and 1778), the first and second editions of Additions and corrections (1784) and the first French translation of the second original edition (1781). Luigi Einaudi owned the first (1817) and third (1821) editions of David Ricardo’s On the principles of political economy and taxation. Even rarer is the collection regarding Thomas Malthus; amongst his works are the first edition on blue paper of An essay on the principles of population (1798) and the first and second editions of Principles of political economy (1820 and 1836). The Mills are also present in the library with several works, James with Elements of political economy (1821, 1824 and 1826) in its first, second and third editions and John Stuart with some twenty titles, many of which are first editions, including Principles of political economy (1848) and Unsettled questions (1844).

Another important group of books concerns the works of Italian economists from the 18th and early 19th century. The collection is virtually complete with first editions of Beccaria, Verri, Gioia, Bosellini, Fuoco, Scialoja, Ferrara and other important authors.

Finally, amongst other works of considerable rarity which draw an even greater interest by scholars of economic thought, Alitinonfo by Gasparo Scaruffi, released in 1582 for the first time, Breve trattato delle cause che possono far abbondare li regni d’oro e d’argento… by Antonio Serra, published in 1613, the first edition of Della moneta. Libri cinque by the abate Galiani, printed in 1751 (containing a title page printing error saying 1750) are to be mentioned.