Law Books Bright and Beautiful on Display at the Yale Law Library

- by Michael Stillman

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Law Books Bright and Beautiful.

The common wisdom is that law books are long and boring plain texts. I don't know whether this exhibit will fix the long and boring part of that reputation, but it will make you reconsider the assumption that they are plain, unattractive texts. These law books are anything but that. Beauty can be found in unexpected places.

 

The Yale Law Library is currently hosting an exhibition of Law Books Bright and Beautiful: Examples from the Yale Law Library Collection. Rare Book Librarian Mike Widener has selected the books for their typography, decoration, or overall design. The exhibitor explains, "the volumes range from a 13th-century illuminated manuscript to modern fine press books on famous American trials. Other volumes include the mining laws of New Spain (1783), the statutes of Verona (1475), and a stunning book of French customary law (1540) printed on parchment with initials in gold leaf. Three of the books were chosen for their colorful endpapers.

 

"Law Books Bright and Beautiful is the latest in a series of exhibitions aimed at promoting the study of law books as objects. It follows two exhibitions dedicated to illustrations in law books. Bindings will be showcased in an upcoming exhibition."

 

The exhibition will be continuing in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level 2, of the Yale Law School in New Haven through June 1, 2018. If you are not able to make it to New Haven, you can view images of some of the books on the library's Flickr site - www.flickr.com/photos/yalelawlibrary/albums/72157690955092822