Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2013 Issue

Legal and Law Related Works, Some Serious, Others Not So Much

Lawbook72

The Devil made those lawyers do it.

The Lawbook Exchange has issued their Catalogue 72. Recently Acquired Books, Manuscripts and Ephemera. It covers much ground related to the law, from learned legal treatises, to more pop culture of their day stories of crime and punishment. There are many items which will interest the non-legal scholar, including numerous very old books, some being items of incunabula. We also find some broadsides and prints, these shorter pieces often being satiric rather than serious (though serious in their own way). A few manuscripts and photographs also make their way into the catalogue, such as those from notable American jurists such as Brandeis and Frankfurter. There is much to be found here, and you do not need to be a lawyer to appreciate it all.

We start with one of the most significant legal tracts ever printed. It has been described as the book that “made” the common law. Item 42 is La Grande Abridgement... together with the second part, the first edition published by Richard Tottell in London (1565). Up until the time Anthony Fitzherbert created this compilation of English cases in the early 16th century, it was difficult to determine what the law, as interpreted by judges, was. Fitzherbert abridged 13,485 cases, which he published under 263 titles listed alphabetically. He essentially took all of the important cases at common law and made the decisions available to the legal trade. For the first time, the tenets of common law became readily accessible to the public. Priced at $6,500.

From the not so serious side of the law, item 35 is the engraving depicted on the cover of this catalogue, The First Day of Term..., or The Devil among the Lawyers. Lawyers seem to have a bad press among the public, ranking almost as low as politicians and used car salesmen, even though it is not clear that their good to bad ratio is any different from that of other professions. Evidently, this unpleasant image is nothing new, as this satirical cartoon dates back to around 1760. In the picture, a smiling Satan is seen passing out briefs to eager lawyers, while another takes some coins in payment from what appears to be something of a country bumpkin. The papers at his feet say “Begun in 1699. Not yet finished.” $2,500.

Lawyers were made the butt of jokes even earlier. Item 97 is the unkindly named play Ignoramus, George Ruggle's biting satire of the English bar, first performed in 1615 (this first edition was published in 1630). This “comedy” is in Latin, and makes fun of the language of the common law and the dullness of lawyers. It is based on a legal dispute between the Mayor of Cambridge and the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. $750.

From the less serious we move to the grisly. Item 19 is The Trial & Execution of John Horwood, which Took Place at the New City Gaol, This Day, (Friday April 13 1821) For the Wilful Murder of Eliza Balsam. Friday the 13th was not a lucky day for Mr. Horwood, unless you consider being the first to be hanged in Bristol's new jail to be a strike of good fortune. John Horwood was a young man of 18 when he spied his former girl friend, Eliza Balsam, with another man. The young English miner was so upset that he threw a stone at Miss Balsam. Unfortunately, his aim was a bit too good, and while it apparently did not cause a major injury, she nonetheless died in surgery. Horwood was tried and promptly executed at the end of a rope, a detail illustrated on this broadside. In compensation for his unsuccessful work saving Miss Balsam's life, the surgeon was rewarded with Horwood's body. He skinned and tanned Horwood's hide and used it to bind the papers from the case. Horwood's skeleton was kept in a closet, the noose still around his neck, and was not buried until 2011, 190 years later. $1,250.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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