Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2017 Issue

Law's Picture Books – Two Exhibitions and Some Online Videos

Two Exhibitions of Law's Picture Books.

"Most people would not look for illustrations in law books." So begins the description of two exhibitions curated by the Yale Law Library in one of the greater understatements you will hear. The exhibitions are designed to disprove the underlying assumptions behind that quote. There is one exhibition in New York, another in New Haven, and for those not close to either, there are some accompanying videos that can be viewed online.

 

Most people expect books about the law to be boring texts filled with legalese and certainly many are. A connection between artistic expression, the feelings and emotions they elicit, with the cold, brutal logic of the law seems a contradiction. However, Michael Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Yale Law School Library, has put together a collection of law books that feature illustrations. Many are feats of artistic expression, while others are more technical in nature, some even comic. There are over a thousand items in the collection, compiled over the past decade, some of which are displayed in the exhibitions. The New York City exhibit, Law's Picture Books, "features 140 books and manuscripts containing a surprising and beguiling range of images that symbolize, describe, teach, argue, or criticize the law." The companion exhibition in New Haven, Around the World With Law's Picture Books, "showcases illustrated law books from fifteen countries on six continents in ten different languages."

 

Some illustrations can be soaring art. Frontispiece images were often depictions of Lady Justice, her balancing scales, or even more dramatic allegorical pictures of heavenly creatures bringing truth and justice for all. Deeper into the text, images were more likely to illustrate a particular facet of the law. Others feature cartoon characters, often used to satirize the law. After all, everyone knows what the law is.

 

The exhibition of Law's Picture Books is being hosted at the Grolier Club in New York and runs from now through November 18. Hours are 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday. There is no charge. The Grolier is located at 47 East 60th Street. The exhibition is curated by Michael Widener and Mark S. Weiner, filmmaker and professor on leave from Rutgers University.

 

Around the World with Law's Picture Books is on exhibit at the Yale Law Library in New Haven through December 15. It is curated by Michael Widener and Emma Molina Widener.

 

Five videos by Mark Weiner are shown on a big screen at the New York City exhibition. However, if you can't make it to New York, you can view them at home through the following link: worldsoflaw.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/laws-picture-books-on-video-with-open-captions-for-the-deaf/

 

Those involved in the book trade, either as booksellers or collectors, even those without a particular interest in the law, will find this particular video of much interest. It is Mr. Widener's trip to the annual ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair. It's a chance to see the fair and the interactions between an institutional buyer and numerous of the dealers from around the world with which he meets. vimeo.com/195856227

 

There is also a book available entitled Law's Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection, by Michael Widener and Mark S. Weiner. It is filled with information about illustrations in law books, and, of course, it is highly illustrated itself, with 166 color illustrations. For more information, see the review elsewhere in this month's issue of Rare Book Monthly.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000

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