Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2020 Issue

Books, Manuscripts, Ephemera, Etc. Related to the Law from The Lawbook Exchange

Books, manuscripts, etc. on the law.

The Lawbook Exchange recently published a catalogue titled Books, Manuscripts, Broadsides, Pamphlets and Ephemera on Law and Related Fields. America, Great Britain & Europe 16th to 20th Centuries. Catalogue 98. That heading cuts a wide swath, which is to say, there is all sorts of different material in here. The common thread is it all relates to the law. Some of it may seem dry to those not well-versed in legal matters. Those gentlemen on the cover don't seem particularly excited about what is presumably a book of canon law that is being read. However, many items in here are more like those legal and courtroom dramas that keep people glued to their TV sets all day. There is something here for everyone's interest in the law. These are a few samples.


This is one of the longest titles I've seen, but it does have the advantage of giving you a very thorough idea of what is in this book: A faithful narrative of the most wicked and inhuman transactions of that bloody-minded gang of thief-takers, alias thief-makers, Macdaniel, Berry, Salmon, Eagan, alias Gahagan; (with a curious print of Macdaniel) as also of that notorious accomplice of theirs, Mary Jones, and others. Shewing the diabolical arts by them practised, to get innocent persons convicted for robberies, and to share amongst themselves the rewards paid for such convictions. By what stroke of providence it was that the compiler of this narrative became acquainted with this mystery of iniquity. The unwearied diligence by him made use of to get to the bottom of it: the manner of his counter-acting those worst of villains... Also the informations the author of this narrative received relative to the affair of Kidden, who was falsly accused, convicted, and executed, Feb. 4, 1756. His searching this, at that time clouded villany, to its very source. The means made use of to bring the principal actress in this most horrid scene, Mary Jones, to justice. Her commitment, &c. for the wilful murder of Joshua Kidden. The whole being interspersed with divers other, accounts of a similar nature, and which cannot but astonish every one who considers them. As you can see by the “...” in the middle, I've shortened the title, but I think this is sufficient to apprise you of what is to be found in its pages. The author, Joseph Cox, was a constable who cracked the case. The book was published in 1756, and this case helped lead to the formation of a salaried police force in London. Item 30. Priced at $3,500.


This has been called “the most magnificent of editions of the Magna Carta.” That is impressive considering copies were being created as far back as over two centuries before printing was invented. There have been a lot of editions. The Magna Carta was, of course, the first document in England granting rights to people other than royalty. It placed obligations, however limited, on the King. What is remarkable about this edition is that it is printed in gold. Published in 1816, it was first book of any sort printed in gold in England. Publisher John Whittaker explained the book was intended “for the display of a new branch of the art of printing.” Each copy is unique, using different stock or being bejeweled in unique ways. Each, however, is printed in gold. Item 61. $10,000.


England was not the place to find defenders of the American Revolution, but there were a few. Among the most notable was Richard Price, a Unitarian minister, economist, mathematician, and political radical. He was friendly with several Americans, particularly Benjamin Franklin, but met with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams too. At the end of the war, 1781, Yale College granted Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees to just two people, George Washington and Richard Price. Item 43 is Two Tracts on Civil Liberty. The War with America, And the Debts and Finances of the Kingdom, published in 1778. These were two essays originally published separately in 1776 and 1777 which defended the Americans' rights and criticized the British reaction on economic, political, and moral grounds. $1,250.


Next is a landmark case in the field of religious rights. Unless you are a defendant's spouse, you normally can be called to testify against that person at trial, no matter how much you would like not to do so. However, communications with certain other people can also be privileged, such as communications with a lawyer who is defending you. What was not clear at the time was communications with a clergyman, and in particular, within the Catholic faith where congregants are encouraged to confess their sins to a priest. Can that priest, who encouraged you to confess, then be called before a court and compelled to repeat that confession? Such a case took place in 1813 before the Court of General Sessions in New York City. Daniel Phillips was accused of receiving stolen property. The prosecution called on his Priest, Anthony Kohlmann, who may have heard Phillips speak as to his guilt in the confessional, to testify in court. It is not hard to recognize what being able to compel a priest to so testify would do to the church's ability to get people to confess sins that may have included violations of the law. The court ruled for the inviolability of the confessional, the Priest did not testify, and Phillips was acquitted for lack of evidence. Item 69 is the court reporter's account of the trial, The Catholic Question in America: Whether a Roman Catholic Clergyman be in Any Case Compellable to Disclose the Secrets of Auricular Confession. $750.


Item 113 is an oil portrait of one of America's most famous jurists, a once Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. That sounds like a portrait you would be proud to hang in your living room, but maybe you better think twice about that. Your friends may wonder what sort of statement you are trying to make. This portrait is of Chief Justice Roger Taney, famous for handing down the Dred Scott Decision, probably the worst court verdict in American history. Dred Scott was a slave who was taken by his owner to a free state, where he thereby claimed his freedom. Taney ruled that not only was Scott not free, but that no black American could ever be a citizen, meaning, among other things, a free black could not even go to court to assert his freedom if kidnapped and taken into slavery. Taney's despicable decision was overturned by the anti-slavery constitutional amendments after the Civil War, yet even today, native-born African Americans running for high office have had to deal with spurious claims they are not American citizens. Perhaps such a person would like to proudly display Taney's portrait. This portrait was once owned by the Philadelphia Bar Association but they evidently no longer wished to honor Taney. This is an impressive portrait, but still... $6,500.


The Lawbook Exchange may be reached at 732-382-1800 or law@lawbookexchange.com. Their website is www.lawbookexchange.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Kerouac, Jack. Typescript scroll of The Dharma Bums. Typed by Kerouac in Orlando, Florida, 1957, published by Viking in 1958. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. The autograph manuscript of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." [Key West, finished April 1936]. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Miller, Henry. Typescript of The Last Book, a working title for Tropic of Cancer, written circa 1931–1932. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Ruscha, Ed. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, with a lengthy inscription to Joe Goode. 40,000 - 60,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. in our time, first edition of Hemingway’s second book. 30,000 - 50,000 USD
  • Swann
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Samuel Augustus Mitchell, A New Map of Texas, Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining, Philadelphia, 1846. $3,500 to $5,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: 17th–19th-century case maps of various locations. $1,500 to $2,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Andreas Cellarius, Haemisphaerium Stellatum Boreale Cum Subiecto Haemisphaerio Terrestri, celestial chart, Amsterdam, 1708. $2,500 to $3,500.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Vincenzo Coronelli, Set of engraved gores for Coronelli’s monumental 42-inch terrestrial globe, Venice, circa 1688–97. $18,000 to $22,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer, group of four navigational charts, Antwerp, 1580s. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Thomas Bros, Block Book of Berkeley, Oakland, 1920s. $800 to $1,200.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Nieuhoff & John Ogilby, An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, map of China, plan of Canton, London, 1673. $1,200 to $1,800.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Frederick Sander, Reichenbachia, St. Albans, 1888-1894. $5,000 to $7,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Two early illustrated works on horsemanship and breeding, Nuremberg, early 18th century. $700 to $800.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Gould, A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans. Supplement to the First Edition, London, 1834; 1855. $40,000 to $60,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Pinkerton, A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World, London, 1808–14. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Oakley Hoopes Bailey, Hackensack, New Jersey, Boston, 1896. $800 to $1,200.
    Valuable Books and Manuscripts
    London auction
    13 December
    Find out more
    Christie’s, Explore now
    TREW, Christoph Jacob (1695–1769). Plantae Selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortus curiosorum. [Nuremberg: 1750–1773]. £30,000–40,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623–88). Liber Organicus Astronomiae Europaeae apud Sinas restituate. [Beijing: Board of Astronomy, 1674]. £250,000–350,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALICE & NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT. Master of Jean Rolin (active 1445–65). Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, [Paris, c.1450–1460]. £120,000–180,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    A SILVER MICROSCOPE. Probably by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), c.1700. £150,000–250,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    C.1311. £100,000–150,000
  • Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Roberts (David) & Croly (George). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumae, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. Lond. 1842 - 1843 [-49]. First Edn. €10,000 to €15,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Incunabula: O'Fihily (Maurice). Duns Scotus Joannes: O'Fihely, Maurice Abp… Venice, 20th November 1497. €8,000 to €12,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: An important file of documents with provenance to G.A. Newsom, manager of the Jacob’s Factory in Dublin, occupied by insurgents during Easter Week 1916. €6,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: WILDE (Oscar), 1854-1900, playwright, aesthete and wit. A lock of Wilde’s Hair, presented by his son to the distinguished Irish actor Mícheál MacLiammóir. €6,000 to €8,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Heaney (Seamus). Bog Poems, London, 1975. Special Limited Edition, No. 33 of 150 Copies, Signed by Author. Illus. by Barrie Cooke. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Binding: Burke, Thomas O.P. (de Burgo). Hibernia Dominicana, Sive Historia Provinciae Hiberniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, ... 1762. First Edition. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: COLLINS, Michael. An important TL, 29 July 1922, addressed to GOVERNMENT on ‘suggested Proclamation warning all concerned that troops have orders to shoot prisoners found sniping, ambushing etc.’. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Scott Fitzgerald (F.) The Great Gatsby, New York (Charles Scribner's Sons) 1925, First Edn. €2,000 to €3,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Yeats (W.B.) The Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2 vols. Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949. Limited Edition, No. 46 of 375 Copies Only, Signed by W.B. Yeats. €1,500 to €2,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of the Russian Empire, Description in English and French, Lg. folio London (S. Gosnell) 1803. First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of Turkey, Illustrated by a Series of Engravings. Lg. folio Lond.(T. Bensley) 1802. First Edn. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Mason (Geo. Henry). The Costume of China, Illustrated with Sixty Engravings. Lg. folio London (for W. Miller) 1800. First Edn. €1,400 to €1,800
  • Sotheby’s
    Fine Books and Manuscripts
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: [Austen, Jane] — Isaac D'Israeli. Jane Austen's copy of Curiosities of Literature. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: [Austen, Jane]. A handsome first edition in boards of the author's debut novel. 70,000 - 100,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Brontë, Charlotte. "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me..." 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Eliot, George. The author's magnum opus. 25,000 - 35,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Whitman, Walt. Manuscript written upon the Death of Lincoln, 1865. 60,000 - 80,000 USD

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