Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2008 Issue

Legal Works from the 16th and 17th Centuries from The Lawbook Exchange

Lawbook60

Catalogue 60 from The Lawbook Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

Catalogue 60 is the latest presentation from The Lawbook Exchange of Clark, New Jersey. This catalogue is subtitled, Recently Acquired Books, Manuscripts and Ephemera, Featuring a Wide Range of Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Continental Treatises. This is an exceptional resource for those who collect early books on the law. You will find everything here from broad discussions of the law going back to Roman times to detailed treatises on very specific legal topics. There are even a few sensational items, such as accounts of trials for various nefarious activities. If it is related to the law, and from long ago, you will find it here. These are a few samples.

Item 18 is a copy of the first text on English law: Henry de Bracton's De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae. You know it's old when they were still publishing books on English law in Latin, though this 1640 printing actually came some four centuries after the work was written. They weren't printing much in the 13th century, so this is just a second edition, following the first of 1569. Bracton had access to the legal records of England around 1250, which allowed him to compile this first account of the laws and customs of England. He distinguishes between rules of procedure and substance, and provides reasoning and authority for the various judicial decisions of the time. Priced at $1,250.

Item 28 is another text on English law, and this covers a pioneering field for the British - elections. There weren't too many nations worrying about the law of elections in 1713, but democracy, or at least some form, came early to the English. Offered is a second edition of The Law of Elections, Being an Abstract of All the Statutes now in Force Relating to the Election of Members to Serve in the House of Commons. $1,500.

Here is another text on British laws, but it is not one concerning voters: A Treatise of Feme Coverts: or the Lady's Law. This is a first edition published in 1732. "Feme Coverts" covered virtually all women besides widows and divorcees (which is to say, women who were under the guardianship of a male head of the household). Women weren't worrying about voting in this era, but about basic issues of property and contracts at a time when women had very few rights. Item 43. $3,000.

This is a collection of pleadings relating to criminal law in Scotland back in the 17th century: Pleadings, In some remarkable Cases, Before the Supreme Courts of Scotland, Since the Year, 1661. Compiled by Sir. George Mackenzie, it covers many issues of the day, including witchcraft. Mackenzie reproduces and comments upon the pleadings in these cases. Item 53 is the third and final edition, from 1704, of a work first published in 1672. $950.

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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