Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2008 Issue

Legal History From the Lawbook Exchange

Lawbook56

Catalogue 56 from the Lawbook Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

From The Lawbook Exchange we have received Catalogue 56 of Law and Legal History. It offers a combination of very old legal works, as far back as the 16th century, classics within various fields of law, a few recent reprints, and some less legalistic books still related to the law. Here are some of the books we found.

Item 42 considers a legal issue that became a major source of antagonism between America and its former colonial master in its early years after independence. Indeed, it was a major factor in driving the two nations into the War of 1812. Published in 1814, the book is A Treatise on Expatriation, by John Hay, the U.S. Attorney for Virginia. It is likely he had input from Jefferson, Madison and Monroe in preparing this work. This was the issue of impressments of American citizens into the British Navy. The British had the nasty habit of stopping American trading ships on the high seas and forcing their sailors into the British Navy. The British "reasoned" that anyone born a British subject was still a British subject, that they could not renounce their citizenship. This meant that American sailors born during colonial times were still considered British citizens by that nation, and therefore subject to impressments into the military the same as any Englishman born on the British Isles. The practice was never officially resolved by that stalemate of a war; the British not giving up their supposed right of impressment. Nevertheless, the British had the good sense to abandon the practice after the war. Priced at $650.

Here is another work touching on the problems that would develop between Britain and America, but this one is very early, at a time when no one could have imagined how far they would go. It is Memoirs and Considerations Concerning the Trade and Revenues of the British Colonies in America: with Proposals for Rendering Those Colonies More Beneficial to Great Britain. This book by John Ashley, published in 1740, was designed to avert any hard feelings caused by trade regulations imposed by the mother country. Instead of following the traditional model of trading only with the mother country and its colonies, the Americans were trading with the Dutch and French colonies. This was a source of friction. However, America was not like the typical colony, peopled by foreign natives and ruled by loyal British overseers. America was peopled by British colonists looking out more for their own interests than England's. Confrontation was inevitable, though it was avoided for a couple more decades, in part because both sides were busy fighting the French. Item 6. $1,500.

Item 38 is the first compilation of the laws of South Carolina: The Public Laws of the State of South Carolina from its First Establishment as a British Province Down to the Year 1790... by John Grimke, published in 1790. It included all of the old British laws that were applied in South Carolina, along with the recent ones of statehood and membership in the Union. Grimke fought in the American Revolution and went on to be the chief judge in South Carolina. He owned a large plantation and many slaves, yet there must have been something unusual in the upbringing he gave his children, as several became reformers, daughters Sarah and Angelina became leading abolitionists (which forced them to move from South Carolina), and his partly black grandson from his son Henry was one of the founders of the NAACP. $4,500.

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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