Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2007 Issue

Antiquarian Legal History from The Lawbook Exchange


Law and Legal History from The Lawbook Exchange.

By Michael Stillman

We recently received Catalogue 54 of Recent Acquisitions in Law and Legal History from The Lawbook Exchange. This is a collection of works primarily under the heading "antiquarian and scholarly." "Antiquarian" is certainly an apt description as there are a great many which date from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Others qualify well for the sobriquet "scholarly," as they delve into the minutia of some legal topic. We will describe a few of the items available, with a focus on those that may be of interest to both those in and outside of the legal profession, perhaps not always quite so scholarly, but maybe more intriguing to the general public.

What could be a more exciting start than a murder case, especially where the defendant was none other than a man of the Lord, a preacher? Item 111 is the Trial of Rev. Geo. W. Carawan, Baptist Preacher, for the Murder of Clement H. Lassiter, Schoolmaster... Mild-mannered schoolteacher Clement Lassiter disappeared on a cold November day from his rural North Carolina home. Three days later, his body was found in a shallow grave in a swamp. Suspicion quickly fell on the fiery Rev. George Washington Carawan. The most damning evidence came from his slave, who said that Carawan had him assist in hiding the body. However, testimony from a slave was inadmissible in North Carolina courts in 1853. Nevertheless, there was much circumstantial evidence, such as Carawan's fleeing the area after the body was found. A little digging revealed that Lassiter had once been Carawan's tenant, but left after the latter accused him of adultery with his wife. Local officials had ignored Carawan's complaint at the time as he was wont to make such charges, having once claimed as much of his own brother. Still, Lassiter had particularly incensed Carawan by suing him for libel. The Preacher was arrested and held in jail for ten months until the trial began. Carawan hired some of the top legal talent in the state, but all to no avail. He was pronounced guilty, whereupon Carawan rose, pulled out a pistol, and shot the prosecutor. The bullet struck near his heart, but glanced off a locket he was wearing, doing little damage. Carawan then pulled a second pistol, aimed it at his own head, and killed himself. Where he got the guns is unknown. The story, naturally, was a sensation at the time, but time heals all wounds, except those produced by a bullet. Priced at $750.

Here is a murder case that has not been forgotten. The guilt of the accused is still argued today, though item 122 consists of 27 volumes, over 20,000 pages of evidence and conclusions. It is the Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy... and the Report of The President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Printed in 1964, this massive set is more commonly known as the Warren Commission Report. $1,400.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions