Essai sur la nature du commerce en general (Essay on the nature of commerce in general) 1755
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The Price and Instrinsic Value of a Thing in general is the measure of the Land and Labour which enter into its Production One acre of land produces more corn or feeds more sheep than another. The work of one man is dearer than that of another, as I have already explained, according to the superior skill and occurrences of the times. If two acres of land are of equal goodness, one will feed as many sheep and produce as much wool as the other, supposing the labour to be the same, and the wool produced by one acre will be the same, and the wool produced by one acre will sell at the same price as that produced by the other. If the wool of the one acre is made into a suit of coarse cloth and the wool of the other into a suit of fine cloth, as the latter will require more work and dearer workmanship it will be sometimes ten times dearer, though both contain the same quantity and quality of wool. The quantity of the produce of the land and the quantity as well as the quality of the labour, will of necessity enter into the price. A pound of flax wrought into fine Brussels lace requires the labour of 14 persons for a year or of one person for 14 years, as may be seen from a calculation of the different processes in the supplement, where we also see that the price obtained for the lace suffices to pay for the maintenance of one person for 14 years as well as the profits of all the undertakers and merchants concerned. The fine steel spring which regulates an English watch is generally sold at a price which makes the proportion of material to labour, or of steel to spring, one to one million so that in this case labour makes up nearly all the value of the spring. See the calculation in the supplement. On the other hand...