Two parts in one volume, 4to, pp. [xii], 444; [xxxii], 309, ; separate title to the second part; with woodcut printer’s device to titles, engraved and typographical head- and tail-pieces throughout; a few quires browned, some foxing; a good copy, in contemporary quarter calf, panelled spine gilt in compartments with gilt lettering-piece; spine worn and rubbed with some loss at extremities, joints cracked but holding, paper cover on the sides peeled off exposing the boards, but solid; eighteenth-century Danish ownership inscription and a further 1877 inscription to the front free end-paper.
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Undersøgninger, angaaende Statens almindelige Oeconomie, som indeholde adskillige vigtige, vanskelige, og nu om Stunder meest omtvistede Saetninger. [With:] Betreffende nogle af de vigtigste og vanskelige Spørgsmaale ved Landvaesenets Indretning.
First edition of the first and most important Danish work on political economy.
Lütken was the first economist in Denmark to base his theories on political economy and his and policy recommendations on analytical grounds. His position on the population issue, on exchange and on wealth appear to have been arrived at independently from the contemporary works and the querelles taking place in France and England. It is especially Lütken’s anti-populationist theory that puts his writings among the pioneering works of the century. Since the mid 1750s, while writing for the censorship-exempt Oeconomiske Magazin, Lütken spoke out against the predominant populationist persuasion (championed at home by his own brother) and outlined a theory of means for the release of population pressure which strongly recalls what forty years later would be Malthus’s ‘positive check’ : warship, colonies and sickness would help reducing numbers. And, in an anticipation of Malthus’s ‘preventive check’, he advocates, among other things, celibacy for the army and prolonged bachelorship for farmhands: all measures which he believes to be enforceable by the State, as preferable to the crude ‘positive’ killing which would inevitably occur if numbers exceed resources.
Considerations on the relationship between population and resources inform Lütken’s first book-length analysis on economic phenomena, including staple production and trade, regulations, duties, luxury. The scope of Lütken’s endeavour stands in contrast with the isolation in which he lived: after graduating in Theology in Copenhagen at the age of 20, at 25 Reverend Lütken was entrusted with the Rectorship of the parish of Skjellerup on the isle of Fyn: there he spent his entire life, turning down many offers of advancement.
See the Danish Biographical Lexicon, sub voce. A very rare book: a world-wide search finds only a handful of copies in Danish institutions, one in Sweden (National Library), one at Kiel University and one in the US (Harvard).
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