Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2007 Issue

Antiquarian Law and History from the Lawbook Exchange

Law52

The latest old books on the law from The Lawbook Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

The Lawbook Exchange
has gathered together 118 Recent Acquisitions in Law and Legal History to present in their 52nd catalogue. Included are primarily antiquarian works, most scholarly, some less erudite in nature, along with a few old Martindale (without Hubbell) law directories and a 1919 Kansas City School of Law yearbook (featuring a surprising number of female students for the time). There are also several compilations of the Justinian Code for those interested in Roman law and its influence on later European rules. Here are some of the legal tracts now available at the Lawbook Exchange.

Item 19 was an influential book, not just in the author's native England, but its American colonies as well. This is a 1719 edition of a work first published around 1680: English Liberties, Or, The Free-Born Subject's Inheritance, Containing the Magna Carta... Henry Care spells out rights that freemen had secured through many laws and acts over the years, starting with the Magna Carta. The work was used by George Mason in drafting Virginia's Declaration of Rights in 1776, and may have had an influence on Jefferson when he composed the Declaration of Independence. He owned two copies. The Lawbook Exchange notes, "Its influence is also evident on the Bill of Rights." Priced at $950.

Item 36 is a collection of lesser known essays concerning the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, compiled by Paul Leicester Ford. The title is Essays on the Constitution of the United States Published During Its Discussion by the People, 1787-1788. Ford researched the files of forty newspapers, plus several thousand other individual copies in various collections to come up with a series of notable contemporary essays for and against the adoption of that momentous document. Where the authors were anonymous, he tracked them down and provided their identity. Ford was a noted biographer, bibliographer and historian of America as well as a publisher. This item was published in 1892 in a limited edition of 500 by the Historical Printing Club of Brooklyn, which he helped form. Apropos to nothing, the multi-talented Ford died at the young age of 37, murdered by his own brother, who promptly took his own life. $400.

Now for a book that probably had more mass appeal at the time of its publication than the average legal treatise: Famous Divorces of All Ages, compiled by Charles Cowley and published in 1878. Cowley was a Massachusetts lawyer, and he compiled information on the divorce cases of the likes of Charles Dickens, George Sand, Lord Nelson, Charles Sumner, and Mary Queen of Scots, among others. Item 24. $250.

Here is an interesting legal document - an appointment as Justice of the Peace for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, of Daniel Webster. Surprisingly, this is not from early in his career, but from 1830, when he was already a sitting U.S. Senator. Why he would be appointed to this position at this time is not clear. The document is signed by Levi Lincoln, the longest consecutive-serving governor of the state and later a congressman. Levi was of the same family as Abraham Lincoln, dating back five generations. Item 113. $500.

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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