Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2007 Issue

Legal History From The Lawbook Exchange

Recent acquisitions from the Lawbook Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

The Lawbook Exchange
recently released the 50th catalogue of Recent Acquisitions. This presents a collection of predominately scholarly works, most antiquarian, a few recent. It is a catalogue which will appeal to those who collect in the field of law, or who are seeking to learn within the field, perhaps to trace legal concepts back to earlier days. This is a not a catalogue that will have mass appeal; it is targeted to a very specific audience. As they say, you know who you are, and you will appreciate these 146 new items. Here are a few.

One of the most notable of all American legal treatises was The Common Law, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Published in 1881, Holmes countered the predominant notion that the law was based on some sort of science founded on abstract principles, but instead was a body of practical rules based on the particular situations encountered. In other words, the law was not discovered, it was invented. It is a debate that still rages today in such areas as constitutional law -- is it flexible or fixed for all time? Twenty-one years after this work was published, Holmes was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court where he served for another thirty years. Item 72 is a first edition. Priced at $3,500.

Item 47 is the first American work on patents, An Essay on the Law of Patents for New Inventions, by Thomas Fessenden. This first edition was published in 1810, just twenty years after the first patent laws were passed, and several decades before the U.S. Patent Office was established. Author Fessenden was not only a lawyer, but a journalist, satirist, poet, publisher and inventor. He held two patents himself, for heating devices. $950.

Item 54 goes even further back in the history of law. Practicarum Observationum... is a 1586 fourth edition of a work originally published in 1578 concerning attachment and garnishment in the Holy Roman Empire. I wasn't aware they had mortgages back then, but evidently they did, and Andreas von Gaill, a German judge and legal scholar, provided this treatise. $850.

William Gloag came up with a unique way to teach law in 1920 with his Carmina Legis or Verses Illustrative of the Law of Scotland. Gloag figured students might be more interested in learning the law of Scotland if it were presented in verse rather than an ordinary textbook. Wrote Gloag, “It occurred to me that a student, sometimes weary of textbooks and lectures, might be interested in an attempt to illustrate the principles of the law of Scotland in metrical form..." He was most likely wrong, as to the best of my knowledge, this method of teaching has not been adopted by any law schools. Item 56. $95.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions