Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2015 Issue

Early English Law from the Lawbook Exchange

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English Law.

The Lawbook Exchange has released a catalogue of English Law 1501-1877. This includes some of the earliest material relating to the law of England. Several items are printed editions of treatises that preceded the invention of printing, at times by several centuries. It is also worth noting that while officially a catalogue of English law, American law would have been essentially the same in the years before the Revolution. These are a few of these old books and other paper and ephemeral items relating to antiquarian English law.

 

A logical starting point is what is essentially the first English law book, Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliae, Tempore Regis Henrici Secundi Compositus... The book was anonymously written, though the author is believed to be Ranulf de Glanville. Glanville was a 12th century justice and close advisor to King Henry II. Henry is credited with organizing the English legal system, though it was Glanville who did most of the footwork. The original manuscript is given a completion date of 1189, and it certainly wouldn't have been later. Henry II died that year, and his son and new King, Richard I, threw him out of office and imprisoned Granville until he paid a ransom. He died the following year participating in the Crusades. Glanville's book is not one of case law, but is instead a procedural guide for the courts. It has long been highly regarded and remained in use for centuries. Item 65 is the first printed edition of this by then 365-year-old text. It was published circa 1554 by Richard Tottel, who served for many years as the exclusive publisher of the English common law. Item 65. Priced at $12,500.

 

The most notable of all English law books is the one commonly known as Blackstone's Commentaries. Published from 1765-1769 in four volumes, it is a thorough treatise on the then confusing mass of tradition forming the common law, an attempt to make sense of it all and elicit its underlying principles. However, this most famous of English legal tracts was not William Blackstone's first. In 1753, Blackstone took on the task of giving lectures on English law at Oxford. This was something novel at the time, and was so well received he undertook to publish a synopsis of those lectures. Item 11 is that book, An Analysis of the Laws of England. Like his later Commentaries, the Analysis was designed to explain the principles of English law, rather than being a compendium of case law. It would provide the outline for his Commentaries a few years later. The Analysis was first published in 1756, and quickly sold out. Item 11 is the sixth and final edition of the Analysis published by Blackstone, in 1771. It is this edition that is contained in many editions of the Commentaries published after Blackstone's death. $750.

 

This next book on English law ultimately had a greater influence on America than on England, though that influence came almost a century later. Item 29 is English Liberties: Or, the Free-Born Subject's Inheritance... by Henry Care, published in either 1680 or 1682. During the 1670's, Care was regarded as a hack, a writer of a myriad of cheap books on various subjects. In 1678, he began writing a series of virulently anti-Catholic papers, and became a promoter of the faked "Popish Plot." However, a few years later, he became a voice of tolerance, and a supporter of the Catholic King, James II. He described James as being a tolerant leader. Nonetheless, James was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and we do not know how Care felt about this as he died that same year. Whether the high-minded Care of the Liberties and tolerance, or the intolerant Care of his anti-Catholic period, is more the mark of the man is unclear. It may be that Care's principles were mostly guided by what was in his own personal and financial interests. His Liberties contains important tracts such as the Magna Carta, which Care considered the source of English law, the Habeas Corpus Act, and other such material. Ultimately, the book would have its most dramatic impact on the American colonists, particularly when they tired of English rule. William Penn used it in sourcing his book on liberty, George Mason when writing the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and Jefferson owned two copies and likely considered it when drafting the Declaration of Independence. $2,850.

 

Item 81 describes the answer to a long unsolved mystery from the early 19th century. It is A Full and Accurate Account of the Inquest Held Upon the Remains of Richard Hemming... published in 1830. Rev. George Parker was murdered in Oddingly, Worcestershire, in 1806. Witnesses' descriptions of his killer matched that of Richard Hemming. There was a problem. Hemming was nowhere to be found. Years and years went by until, in 1830, his remains were discovered in a barn. It was just a skeleton. He had been there a long time – 24 years. At the time Hemming was killed, the barn had been leased by one Thomas Clewes. He confessed, and cited two others as accomplices. It seems the three farmers had hired Hemming to kill Rev. Parker over a dispute involving tithes. Then, one of them, perhaps to assure Hemming's silence, killed him. A trial was held, and most people expected the three to conclude their lives at the end of a rope, but contradictions in testimony, and lack of evidence beyond Clewes' confession, got them acquitted. $850.

 

The Lawbook Exchange may be reached at 732-382-1800 or law@lawbookexchange.com. Their website is www.lawbookexchange.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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

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