Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2008 Issue

Legal Cases and the Law from the Lawbook Exchange

Lawbook53

Catalogue 53 from the Lawbook Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

Recently off the press is Catalogue 53 of Law and Legal History from the Lawbook Exchange. Most items in the catalogue fit the category of "antiquarian and scholarly," though this time there is a greater mix of items that will intrigue readers beyond the legal community. In other words, you don't have to be a learned attorney or law librarian to appreciate many of the titles offered in this latest catalogue. Some give a look at history, politics and theology as well as law. There is even some humor! Here are a few such books now available from the Lawbook Exchange.

Item 90 is a parody of a trial that never took place. The Reverend Alexander Fletcher was a very popular preacher in 19th century England. He filled his churches with devoted followers, and was especially noted for his way with children and young people. Fletcher was as well a supporter of noble causes, helping the poor, reforming prisons, and promoting the abolition of slavery in the United States. Frederick Douglass spoke in his chapel in London. However, in 1824, the good Reverend was the subject of a most embarrassing suit. Eliza Dick, daughter of a minister, sued him for breach of promise to marry her. No verdict was reached in the civil court, which is just as well, as it is hard to imagine how unhappy that marriage would have been had the judge dragged him down the aisle. Fletcher reportedly apologized profusely and paid all her court costs. However, the ecclesiastical court was not so kind, and he was suspended from his office. Fletcher did not lose any popularity and would form another church with thousands of parishioners. The remaining 35 years would see him a beloved and influential clergyman, and 21 years after the "trial," he would become a husband (not to Miss Dick). The book is entitled Trial of Rev. Alexander Fletcher, A.M. Before the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Sense... published in 1825. In this parody, the trial is held, and a jury of notable Englishmen finds the Reverend guilty. Priced at $350.

Alexander Stephens was an unreconstructed Confederate to the end. Stephens was the Vice-President of the Confederacy throughout its existence. Oddly, he came very late to secession. He spoke against secession at the Georgia state convention that authorized that state to secede. However, once the decision was made, he became an enthusiastic supporter. He was elected Vice-President of the Confederacy in February 1861, and the following month gave his "Cornerstone Speech," a strong defense of slavery. Stephens claimed that Jefferson was wrong in declaring all men were equal. The cornerstone of the confederacy, he stated, "rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition." Stephens was briefly imprisoned after the war, and later went on to serve in Congress and was Governor of Georgia at the time of his death. Item 86, dated 1868, is entitled A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States... and in it Stephens still argues that states have a right to secede. $95.

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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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