Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

Law and Legal History from The Lawbook Exchange

Catalogue 61 from the Lawbook Exchange.


By Michael Stillman

The Lawbook Exchange has issued their Catalogue 61. Recently Acquired Books, Manuscripts and Other Items Relating to Law, Legal History and Politics, With a Notable Selection of Eighteenth And Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Titles. It's all here, from dry, legal texts, to sensational trials, to biographies and photographs of famous legal personalities, to historically important works about the law. If it is related to the law, you may find it in a Lawbook Exchange catalogue. Here are a few of the items on the docket this month.

Item 29 is A Treatise on the Law of Libel and the Liberty of the Press, Showing the Origin, Use and Abuse of the Law of Libel, by a man who knew about the subject from personal experience. Author Samuel Cooper was a friend of Thomas Jefferson who was imprisoned in 1799 under the Sedition Act for libeling President Adams. Cooper was a prolific writer, writing books about law, science, medicine and politics. He used his time in prison to author the first American text on bankruptcy. Offered is a first edition from 1830 of his book on libel. Priced at $1,000.

William Barton was another Jeffersonian, and he dedicated this book to his esteemed President in 1802: Dissertation on the Freedom of Navigation and Maritime Commerce... Barton argues for the right to freedom of navigation by neutral merchant ships. This was the position of the United States at the time. The British and French were continually at war with one another, and each wished to stop American ships from trading with the other side. The Americans, naturally, wanted to trade freely with both. Interference with free trade brought America to the brink of war with both powers on several occasions, and finally into the War of 1812 with the British when that nation went too far with its impressments of American seamen. Item 6. $2,000.

Item 57 is a notable argument against the use of debtor's prison: Speech of Col. Richard M. Johnson, Of Kentucky, On a Proposition to Abolish Imprisonment for Debt, Submitted by Him to the Senate of the United States, January 14, 1823. Johnson noted that imprisonment for debt was the only instance where one citizen, at his discretion, could have another imprisoned. He considered this "repugnant to the spirit of the Constitution." Johnson was an eccentric senator who enjoyed an up and down political career. His reputation was buoyed by his Jacksonian principles and the report (neither affirmed nor denied by him) that he killed the Indian Chief Tecumseh in battle. It was brought down by his open, effectively common-law relationship with a slave woman and their children. The result was that he was defeated for the senate in 1828, was elected vice-president with Van Buren in 1836, but dumped from the ticket in 1840. $150.

There were two big stories in the Chicago area in 1860. One was the election of the state's favorite son, Abraham Lincoln, as President. The other was the sensational Burch divorce case. The Burches ran in the highest society. Isaac Burch was a wealthy banker, his wife a socialite and niece of one of the richest men in the world, New York Central Railroad tycoon Erastus Corning. He bankrolled her defense. Isaac sued for infidelity based on a supposed confession, which Mary Burch withdrew. With little else to go on, the jury acquitted her. Nevertheless, the couple naturally split, and Mr. Burch went off with one daughter to live in Paris, while Mrs. Burch took the older daughter and married a physician from Detroit. The full story of the trial can be found in item 103, the Only Complete Report of the Burch Divorce Case... published in 1860. $100.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 80: Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha), Madrid: Por Juan de la Cuesta, 1608. $80,000 to $120,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 239: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, First London Paperback Edition, London, 1997. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 221: Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, New York, 1985. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 281: Napoleon Bonaparte, Sloane, William Milligan, Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, New York, 1896. $25,000 to $35,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 147: Christoph Jacob Trew, Plantae Selectae quarum Imagines ad Exemplaria Naturalia, Nuremberg, 1750-73. $30,000 to $50,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 125: Guido de Monte Rochen, Manipulus Curatorum, London, 1509. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 197: William Faulkner, Turn About, Ottawa, 1939. $8,000 to $10,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 159: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, London, 1844. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 119: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Works, London, 1675. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 45: Book of Hours in Latin, Use of Rome, illuminated with miniatures, Lyon, circa 1475-1500. $40,000 to $60,000.
  • 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

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