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INTRODUCTION - Nicholas Barbon, A Discourse of Trade 
A Discourse of Trade. A Reprint of Economic Tracts, ed. Jacob H. Hollander (Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1905).
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Professor of Political Economy
The careful researches of Professor Stephen Bauer have thrown much needed light upon the life of Nicholas Barbon and upon his proper place in the history of economic thought.1 Born in London, probably in 1640, the son of Praisegod Barebone—"anabaptist, leather-seller, and politician,"2 —he studied medicine at Leyden, received a medical degree at Utrecht in 1661, and was admitted as an honorary fellow of the College of Physicians in 1664. After the great fire of 1666, he established the first insurance office in London, and participated actively in rebuilding the city. He was a member of Parliament in 1690, and again in 1695; he founded and conducted a land bank in 1695-96, and he died in 1698, making John Asgill the executor of his will, and directing that none of his debts should be paid.
Barbon's writings stand for the most part in immediate relation to the economic events of the period in which he lived. He defended his scheme of fire insurance; he advocated building extension in London; he discussed the possibilities of land-banking and he contributed a remarkable tract3 to the currency controversy of 1696.
Of more general scope than these semi-controversial pamphlets is the essay here reprinted. Of the circumstances under which it was written and of the obscurity into which it appears promptly to have fallen nothing is known. Less enthusiastic critics will dissent from Professor Bauer's opinions that certain of its passages place Barbon as an economist above both Petty and Locke, and that it contains the ablest refutation of the theory of the balance of trade previous to Hume and Adam Smith. But none will deny that the essay is surely entitled to reissue in accessible form, and that Barbon may properly receive, to a greater degree than has heretofore been accorded him, the attention of students of the development of economic thought from Hobbes to Hume.
The present edition is a reprint of Barbon's essay as issued in 1690.4 The general appearance of the title page has been preserved, the original pagination has been indicated and a few notes have been appended.
[1.]Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik (Jena), Bd. XXI (1890), N. F., pp. 561-590; also "Barbon" in "Dictionary of Political Economy" (ed. Palgrave), Vol. I, pp. 119-121.
[2.] "Praisegod Barebone" in "Dictionary of National Biography" (ed. Stephen), Vol. III, p. 151.
[3.]"A Discourse Concerning Coining the New Money lighter. In Answer to Mr. Lock's Considerations about raising the Value of Money" (London, 1696).
[4.]The formal collation of the tract is as follows: Title page, reverse blank; Preface, nine folios without pagination; Contents, one folio; Text, ninety-two folios. Size, small 16mo.