Adam Smith and the 18th-century gadgets that inspired him

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My favourite etui is Bonnie Prince Charlie’s travel canteen, containing a complete set of eating utensils, including a corkscrew, silver cups and a nutmeg grater.


As always, when mentioning Adam Smith, I need to point out the parts of his work that his unReasonable fanclub would not be happy about:

‘Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have property against those who have none at all.’

‘This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition … is … the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.’

‘The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the publick … The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order … ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined … with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men … who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick…’

'Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.’


Women also had nifty portable gadgets like this, going back even longer.

Also, thanks to @Purplecat for beating me to the punch. It’s an interesting article, but it’s important to remember that Reason is a Koch-funded magazine intended to soft-sell Libertarian garbage to younger people.


Actually I think they’d be fine with this one. Feature, not a bug.


They are but they’d never admit it. That would interfere with their rugged individualist self image.


Far right freaks like the Adam Smith Institute

are as related to the writings of Adam Smith as prosperity gospel preachers are to the words and deeds of Jesus.


Years ago my great-aunt gave me a little tin globe like this one, slightly larger than a golf ball. It turned out to be a travelling writing kit. If you pressed a catch on the side, the northern hemisphere sprang open to reveal a thimble-sized glass inkwell with a cork stopper and a brush to wipe a pen nib on. It was old when she passed it on to me. A google search suggests late 19th century. I wish I still had it.

“Contemporary art depicts not just affluent people but sailors and farm workers sporting watch chains”

"I’ve snuff and tobaccy, and excellent jacky,
I’ve scissors, and watches, and knives;
I’ve ribbons and laces to set off the faces
Of pretty young sweethearts and wives."


My personal favorite is Smith’s actual definition of a free market as one free from rent-seeking. Aka: one where actual work drives value, rather than mere ownership.


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