Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2014 Issue

Collection of Early European Legal Works Being Sold by Los Angeles Law Library

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The Los Angeles County Law Library.

Some libraries are more like collections than working libraries. Others are designed to provide material for historical research. However, most are intended for practical use by today's users. As such, it means older material no longer regularly used by patrons needs to be removed to make room for newer, more relevant books. Such is the case at the Los Angeles County Law Library, and it is making for a rare opportunity for collectors to purchase some very old and historical European legal tracts. There is even a second edition of Newton's Principia available, not exactly a legal text but an extremely important scientific work. The books will be sold by Bonham's in England in two sales, one in March, the other in April.

 

The LA Law Library was formed in 1891 to provide access to legal information both for those in the legal community and for the general public. One hundred twenty years later, that purpose remains unchanged. It is there to serve those for whom fortune, or misfortune, demands they weave their way through the labyrinth of the law. Books that were useful in the library's earlier days have been superseded by a century's worth of changes in the law. One still may quote Blackstone once in awhile, but the need for a treatise on 15th century cannon law, especially in Latin, is unlikely to arise in Los Angeles very often. The library can no longer justify the shelf space, nor the cost of maintaining an aged book from deterioration, considering its purpose.

 

Among the books offered is the aforementioned 1713 edition of Newton's Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. It was the second of three editions published during Newton's lifetime. His account of the laws of motion is universally regarded as one of the most important, if not the most important, scientific work ever published. The first edition had long ago sold out and become scarce when Newton was persuaded to issue this second, and updated edition of his work. The price is estimated at $13,000-$20,000.

 

Other items offered include a beautifully illustrated 16th century edition of Justinian's Corpus juris civilis. Institutiones, estimated at $8,000-$12,000. There is a late 15th century copy of Johannes Andreae's Super arboribus consanguinitatis, affinitatis et cognationis spiritualis necnon legalis, a notable item of canon law estimated at $6,500-$10,000. An important 16th century English translation of the Magna Carta from the original Latin by George Ferrers is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

 

The LA Law Library, the second largest public law library in the United States after the Law Library of Congress, acquired most of this material from the 1940's through the 1960's as part of larger acquisitions. However, time has shown insufficient demand for issues such as older Latvian Law, Tuscan criminal penalties, and homicide in Salamanca to hold onto these books any longer. The library's Executive Director, Sandra Levin, explains, “The collection of historic European law books, although interesting academically, does not meet the practical contemporary needs of the Library’s users whose focus is overwhelmingly on relevant, useful practice materials. Their sale will free up space to conserve the rare books and documents on American law which are much more relevant to our users.”

 

Bonham's will be auctioning the material in two sales in England, one in London on March 5, and the other in Oxford on April 29. However, American buyers will have an opportunity to view highlights of the sale at Bonham's Los Angeles galleries from February 7-9, timed to coincide with the 47th annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair in nearby Pasadena.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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