I'm confused by "but" in a sentence

"His (Sraffa's) reputation as a major economic theorist rests on but three works".

My understanding is that but is short for "all but" since Sraffa is not a prolific economist. Need help!

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  • 6
    'But' here means 'only'. – Nigel J May 20 '18 at 15:26
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    It would be a very weird thing to say, but if you had all but in your cited context, it would mean that Sraffa's reputation rested on all [his] works except [some specific three works on which his reputation doesn't depend]. – FumbleFingers May 20 '18 at 15:40
  • Addressed here and here. – Edwin Ashworth May 20 '18 at 15:53