Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2007 Issue

Legal Works from The British Colonial Empire from The Lawbook Exchange

Lawbook49

Law from the British colonies is offered in The Lawbook Exchange's Catalogue 49.


By Michael Stillman

The 49th catalogue from The Lawbook Exchange is entitled Colonies of the British Empire. This is a collection of books about the law in various British colonies around the world, from Africa to India to the Americas and more. As the Lawbook Exchange notes, at its peak, the British Empire covered approximately one-quarter of the world's landmass and one-quarter of its population, nearly 458 million people at a time when the world's population was a fraction of what it is today.

Most of these tracts date from the mid 19th century to early in the 20th. As a result, you will not find material from today's United States, it having secured its independence much earlier. However, Canada and its provinces (often pre-federation) are well represented, as is Jamaica. Of course, India, the most populous overseas colony, and many lands in Africa contribute to the legal scholarship of the colonies. South Africa, formed from several once independent provinces, offers many works to this collection.

The works in this catalogue will be of interest to collectors of the British Empire and their legal systems in particular. Scholars and researchers of British legal history and precedent will also find much useful material. There isn't much light reading here -- sensational trials (with one exception) and the like, which are often found in Lawbook Exchange catalogues. This is definitely more scholarly material. However, we do note one amusing item, the 13 ½ x 19 1/2 color lithograph depicted on the cover of this catalogue (click the thumbnail image above left to enlarge). This is a separate image which accompanied the November 25, 1897, issue of Vanity Fair, a weekly known for its satirical depictions of notable persons and current events. As the map in the background implies, the British colonialists are preparing their advance on the Boer states, which would result in the second Boer War a short time later, and the British capture and colonization of South Africa. The man to the left is the most noted of all British colonialists and imperialists, Cecil Rhodes, for whom one of the lands on the map, Rhodesia (today's Zimbabwe), was named. The image was created by "Stuff." Vanity Fair artists used such pseudonyms. "Stuff" is believed to be Henry Charles Seppings-Wright. Item 1. Priced at $750.

Here is one other item with more than legal overtones: India Courier Extraordinary: Proceedings of Parliament Relating to Warren Hastings, Esq. Containing Mr. Burke's Charges, and Mr. Hastings' Defence. This is coupled with several related works as item 186. Warren Hastings was the first British Governor-General of India, serving from 1773-1785. He was an able administrator, dealing effectively on behalf of his employer, the British East India Company, keeping the wide and diverse land securely under British authority. He made money personally with some side projects, brought wealth to his employer, and at times dealt harshly with those who resisted British rule, as was the custom of the day (American colonists raised similar objections, and they were more closely related to the British than the Indians). Along the way, he developed the enmity of Sir Philip Francis, whom he seriously injured in a duel.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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