Rare Books Blog

September 30, 2014

The Lillian Goldman Law Library
and
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

invite the Yale community to

A CELEBRATION OF THE ANTHONY TAUSSIG ACQUISITION
 

Friday, October 3, 2014
 

10:15-11:00am: Welcome Reception (Room 122, Yale Law School)
 

11:00am-12:00pm: Building the Collection (Room 129, Yale Law School)

  • Welcome by Robert C. Post, Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Anthony Taissig, Barrister, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Sir John H. Baker, Downing Professor Emeritus of the Laws of England, University of Cambridge
     

1-15-2:15pm: Using the Collection (Room 129, Yale Law School)

  • Anders Winroth, Forst Family Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies, History, Yale University
  • Andrew Brown, PhD Candidate in English, Yale University
     

2:30-4:00pm: Guided Exhibition Tours (Yale Law Library and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library).

  • Featuring highlights of the Taussig collections
     

4:15-5:00pm: Closing Remarks (Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library)

  • John Langbein, Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale Law School
     

5:00-6:00pm: Reception (Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
 

This event is made possible through the generous support of the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School and the Beinecke Rare Book & Mnuscript Library.

Colophon, Pontano's Singularia iuris 1471
September 28, 2014

With this final installment on our earliest printed books, we will have covered all the early centers of printing in Italy: Rome, Naples, and now Venice.

Printing came to Venice in 1469 with Johann of Speyer and his brother Wendelin. Johann died soon after, but Wendelin continued printing until 1477. Venice, the commercial hub of Europe, soon became the pre-eminent center for printing, responsible for close to 15 percent of all 15th-century printing.

Wendelin of Speyer (“Vindelinus de Spira”) printed mainly texts from the classics, literature, and philosophy. One of the first law books he published is the one we own: the first edition of Lodovico Pontano’s Singularia utriusque iuris (Venice: Vindelinus de Spira, 1471). By the time his brief career was cut short by the plague, Lodovico Pontano (1409-1439) had taught law in the universities of Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Siena, served in the Roman Curia, and represented King Alfonso V of Aragon at the Council of Basel. “Singularia” are brief expositions of specific legal issues. Pontano’s Singularia iuris was the most popular of his works. It appeared in seventeen editions by 1500 and was included in fourteen compilations in the 16th century, the last in 1578.

As a typography geek, I love the type in this book (see below). It is one of the earliest uses of roman type, the style of type that is still the most prevalent in modern western books and periodicals. It is believed that Nicolas Jenson, the most important early type designer, designed this type for the Speyers.

— MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Further reading…

Albericus de Maletis, Tractatus seu apparatus de testibus (ca. 1471), colophon
September 26, 2014

Continuing with a review of the earliest printed books in the Yale Law Library, we move from Strassburg in 1471 to Naples, and a printer who learned his craft in Strassburg.

The printer’s name was Sixtus Reissinger, the first printer in Naples. He was part of a wave of Germans who introduced printing in Italy, and who also pioneered the use of roman typefaces. Reissinger partnered with Ulrich Han on the first book printed in Rome. By around 1470 Reissinger moved to Naples, where he was active until 1478. He returned to Germany for a time. From 1481 to 1484, the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue shows him printing again in Rome.

Law books formed a significant part of Riessinger’s output, mostly commentaries and treatises by authors such as Baldus and Bartolus. He also published classics including Cicero and Ovid, as well as religious works.

We own one of the rarer products of Riessinger’s press, the Tractatus seu apparatus de testibus by Albericus de Maletis (Naples: Sixtus Riessinger, ca. 1471), a brief treatise on witnesses in Roman law. It is the only copy of this edition in the United States; ISTC reports only two other copies in Germany and three in Italy.

— MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Further reading:

Dominicus de Sancto Geminiano's Super secunda parte sexti libri decretalium (Rome: Adam   Rot, 1471)
September 26, 2014

The third of Yale Law Library’s four books from 1471 is a canon law commentary: Dominicus de Sancto Geminiano’s Super secunda parte sexti libri decretalium (Rome: Adam Rot, 1471).

The author, Dominicus de Sancto Geminiano (a.k.a. Domenico da San Gimignano), was considered one of the best canonists of his time. He taught law at Bologna’s famous law school, where he earned a doctorate in canon law in 1402, and was an official in the papal law courts. He was a prolific author. This commentary on the Liber Sextus is one of his most important works.

In his Bibliographical Decameron (1817), Thomas Frognall Dibdin refers to the book’s printer, Adam Rot, as “that subtle and coy typographical artist … of whom we know little or nothing in this country.” Not much has been learned since then. Rot was one of the early group of German printers in Rome. The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue lists 37 titles printed by Rot in the period 1471-1474. He published several volumes of consilia by various jurists. He was the first publisher of guidebooks for pilgrims to Rome. The Super secunda parte sexti libri decretalium is Rot’s earliest book bearing an imprint date.

Our copy is printed in roman type, with elegant hand-drawn initials in alternating red and blue, and red paragraph marks.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Gratian's Decretum (Strassburg, 1471)
September 22, 2014

A frequent question from visitors is “What is your oldest book?”. For printed books, there are four contenders for the distinction. All of them were printed in 1471, seventeen years after Johan Gutenberg produced the first printed book, his 42-line Bible. This series of posts will introduce them.

First up is the 1471 edition of Gratian’s Decretum, printed in Strassburg by Heinrich Eggestein. It is the first printed edition of the Decretum, one of the foundational texts of medieval and early modern canon law. Gratian, a 12th-century cleric who became bishop of Chuisi in Tuscany, compiled thousands of authoritative statements of church law and attempted to reconcile the differences. The Decretum was the basic textbook of canon law for centuries, and formed part of the law of the Catholic Church until 1917.

The printer, Heinrich Eggestein, might have first learned the new art of printing from Johan Gutenberg himself at Gutenberg’s workshop in in Mainz, and might have even witnessed the printing of Gutenberg’s Bible. From 1466 to 1488 Eggestein printed books in Strassburg, beginning with a Latin Bible, and printed many books of Roman and canon law.

Eggestein’s 1471 Decretum is one of our prettiest incunables. It is printed in Gothic type, with initials and paragraph marks in alternating red and blue. It is also quite possibly the heaviest book in our collection, weighing in at a whopping 28 lbs.!

For more, see:

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Map of Fort Lorenzo, Panama (1740)
September 11, 2014

I picked up a volume to catalog that until recently was in the the Los Angeles County Law Library. We acquired it at auction in London in the spring 2014. The title is De mercatura decisiones, et tractatus varii et di rebus ad eam pertinentibus, published in Cologne in 1622. The volume is about commercial law and contains some decisions of the commercial court in Genoa, as well as various other writings on commercial law. We don’t know how it came into the possession of the LA County Law Library. There is one unusual thing about this volume: our copy has laid in before the title page a map, 14 x 17 cm. Since the land mass looked a little like the shape of Africa, I still wasn’t too surprised. A little closer look, and I saw “to Panama 82 miles.” OK, now I’m interested. I searched the map and found that the Library of Congress has a copy of this map in their Panama Canal collection. The catalog record is beautiful, and it indicates that the reason for the map was the bombardment of Fort San Lorenzo, Panama, in 1740.

Here’s my question. Why did the former owner of this copy of a book on commercial law published in 1622, find it useful to bind in a map of Panama, published in 1740?

– SUSAN KARPUK, Rare Books Cataloger

September 5, 2014

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Yale Law Library Rare  Book Fellowship. Here are the details.

FIXED DURATION POSITION: 6 months from date of hire; non-renewable

EXPECTED START DATE: Jan/Feb 2015 (flexible start date)

POSITION FOCUS: The Lillian Goldman Law Library has established this fellowship to train the next generation of rare book librarians to serve the growing number of special collections departments in academic law libraries. The Rare Book Fellow will be trained in special collections librarianship including acquisitions, collection development, cataloging, reference services, exhibit preparation & design, bibliographic instruction, preservation, and digital projects. The Fellow will be charged with completing a major project involving our Kuttner Institute Library materials, focusing on medieval canon law. The Kuttner Institute Library has been placed on deposit at the Yale Law Library by the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Under the direction of the Rare Book Librarian, the Rare Book Fellow will spend time learning special collections librarianship with an emphasis on law material. The Fellow will: follow a curriculum designed by the Rare Book Librarian that includes a general orientation to Yale University, librarianship, and rare law book librarianship; gain experience in collection development and management, preservation, reference and outreach, exhibition planning, and cataloging rare books; contribute to ongoing digital initiatives; develop and complete a special project pertaining to the Kuttner Institute Library materials in consultation with the Rare Book Librarian; participate in professional activities, Law Library committees, policy discussions, and other library-wide activities. The Fellow will be fully integrated into the Law Library’s professional staff. More information about the Fellowship can be found here: http://library.law.yale.edu/rare-book-fellowship.

QUALIFICATIONS: The Rare Book Fellowship will be open to those who have (or will have by Jan. 2015) a Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program for library and information science (or foreign equivalent), and who are in the initial stages of a career as a librarian. Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills, and must be able to work in a complex and changing environment with diverse staff and users. It is imperative that candidates have reading knowledge of Latin and a demonstrated interest in rare books. (Please note this is not an archivist position).

Preference will be given to candidates with knowledge of and/or experience working with canon law, legal history, and/or medieval history; preference will also be given to candidates with skills in the foreign languages most heavily represented in Yale Law Library special collections (Italian, German, French, Spanish, Dutch).

SALARY: The Rare Book Fellow will work for six months (Jan/Feb 2015 flexible start date) at a stipend of $4,500 per month, plus benefits including health insurance through membership in the Yale Health Plan. The Fellow will be given generous support for professional development.

APPLICATION PROCESS: The Rare Book Fellowship is a competitive fellowship. Applications consisting of a cover letter summarizing the applicant’s qualifications and describing how this position will contribute to long-term career goals, CV or resume, and names and contact information of three (3) professional references should be sent electronically to Teresa Miguel-Stearns (teresa.miguel@yale.edu), Deputy Director, no later than October 15, 2014. There is no application form. Please be sure to include “Rare Book Fellowship” in the e-mail subject and cover letter. Offer is contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

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