Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2014 Issue

Collection of Early European Legal Works Being Sold by Los Angeles Law Library

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The Los Angeles County Law Library.

Some libraries are more like collections than working libraries. Others are designed to provide material for historical research. However, most are intended for practical use by today's users. As such, it means older material no longer regularly used by patrons needs to be removed to make room for newer, more relevant books. Such is the case at the Los Angeles County Law Library, and it is making for a rare opportunity for collectors to purchase some very old and historical European legal tracts. There is even a second edition of Newton's Principia available, not exactly a legal text but an extremely important scientific work. The books will be sold by Bonham's in England in two sales, one in March, the other in April.

 

The LA Law Library was formed in 1891 to provide access to legal information both for those in the legal community and for the general public. One hundred twenty years later, that purpose remains unchanged. It is there to serve those for whom fortune, or misfortune, demands they weave their way through the labyrinth of the law. Books that were useful in the library's earlier days have been superseded by a century's worth of changes in the law. One still may quote Blackstone once in awhile, but the need for a treatise on 15th century cannon law, especially in Latin, is unlikely to arise in Los Angeles very often. The library can no longer justify the shelf space, nor the cost of maintaining an aged book from deterioration, considering its purpose.

 

Among the books offered is the aforementioned 1713 edition of Newton's Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. It was the second of three editions published during Newton's lifetime. His account of the laws of motion is universally regarded as one of the most important, if not the most important, scientific work ever published. The first edition had long ago sold out and become scarce when Newton was persuaded to issue this second, and updated edition of his work. The price is estimated at $13,000-$20,000.

 

Other items offered include a beautifully illustrated 16th century edition of Justinian's Corpus juris civilis. Institutiones, estimated at $8,000-$12,000. There is a late 15th century copy of Johannes Andreae's Super arboribus consanguinitatis, affinitatis et cognationis spiritualis necnon legalis, a notable item of canon law estimated at $6,500-$10,000. An important 16th century English translation of the Magna Carta from the original Latin by George Ferrers is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

 

The LA Law Library, the second largest public law library in the United States after the Law Library of Congress, acquired most of this material from the 1940's through the 1960's as part of larger acquisitions. However, time has shown insufficient demand for issues such as older Latvian Law, Tuscan criminal penalties, and homicide in Salamanca to hold onto these books any longer. The library's Executive Director, Sandra Levin, explains, “The collection of historic European law books, although interesting academically, does not meet the practical contemporary needs of the Library’s users whose focus is overwhelmingly on relevant, useful practice materials. Their sale will free up space to conserve the rare books and documents on American law which are much more relevant to our users.”

 

Bonham's will be auctioning the material in two sales in England, one in London on March 5, and the other in Oxford on April 29. However, American buyers will have an opportunity to view highlights of the sale at Bonham's Los Angeles galleries from February 7-9, timed to coincide with the 47th annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair in nearby Pasadena.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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