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The Complete English Tradesman, in Familiar Letters;
London: for Charles Rivington,, 1726. Directing him in all the several Parts and Progressions of Trade… Calculated for the Instruction of our Inland Tradesmen; and especially of Young Beginners. Octavo (196 × 120 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, gilt-rule border to covers, neatly rebacked to style, red morocco label, sprinkled edges. Title printed in red and black. Endpapers renewed; a crisp, clean copy. Likely first edition, though the work is bibliographically complex. Moore gives its history as follows: It was first published in 1725 with ten numbered sections, but within several months another version was issued with twelve sections. Both these issues were dated 1726. In 1726, but with an imprint of 1727, a "second edition" was published, with a separately paginated supplement; and in 1727 itself a second volume appeared, directed primarily to more experienced tradesmen than those for whom the first volume was written. If Moore is correct, this copy is the second issue of the first edition, since it has twelve numbered sections. But given that Moore gives no collation for the supposed first issue, and that no copy is located in BMC, NUC, or any of the standard bibliographies and is not mentioned by Furbank & Owens, it is perhaps doubtful that such an issue ever existed. Our copy is probably, therefore, a straight first edition. This "highly original conduct book" (ODNB) was perhaps based in part on Defoe's own experience of bankruptcy in 1692. The work deals with many subjects useful to the inexperienced tradesman, including apprenticeship, bankruptcy, trade networks and materials sourcing, customer relations, rumour and scandal, credit, book-keeping, and so on. He warns of the pitfalls that lie in wait, "for a tradesman to borrow money upon interest, I take to be like a man going into a home infected with the plague; 'tis not only likely that he may be infected and die, but next to a miracle if he escapes" (p. xv). Interestingly, he also puts forward a strong case for a wife to be involved in her husband's business. The book presages DeFoe's career as a novelist, as "Tradesmen, their families, and customers take the stage, are given feelings and personalities, and exit. More and more Defoe gave free rein to the creation of fictional worlds, and the flow into fantasy in whatever he wrote became more common…" (ODNB).
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2015-05-21           Check availability:      Biblio    

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