Rare Books Blog

Woof Moo Grr
February 1, 2017

A charming exhibit of animals pictured in law books opens February 1, courtesy of the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection. Titled “Woof, Moo & Grr: A Carnival of Animals in Law Books,” the exhibit is narrated from the perspective of the animals themselves and is aimed at animal lovers of all ages.

Twenty books from around the world will be on display, more than half of them printed before the nineteenth century and the earliest published in 1529. They feature illustrations of a wide variety of animals that visitors may be surprised to find in the pages of serious legal literature.

The exhibition is curated by Mark S. Weiner, a writer, filmmaker, and professor on leave from Rutgers Law School. Weiner holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.

“Law is a serious business,” said Weiner, “which is why it’s important to find a chance to laugh. The exhibit looks at the different roles that animals play in legal literature, and it quietly explores the relation between law and the imagination.”

“Woof, Moo & Grr” is on display from February 1 through May 31, 2017, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School, at 127 Wall Street in New Haven. It is open to the general public 10am-6pm, seven days a week, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

The images and text from the exhibit are also available online, in the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site.

For more information, contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, at (203) 432-4494, email <mike.widener@yale.edu>.

Morris Cohen
January 27, 2017

The Legal History and Rare Books (LH&RB) Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the Ninth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

The competition is designed to encourage scholarship and to acquaint students with the AALL and law librarianship, and is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting, scheduled for July 15-18, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

Winning and runner-up entries will be invited to submit their entries to Unbound, the official journal of LH&RB. Past winning essays have gone on to be accepted by journals such as N.Y.U. Law Review, American Journal of Legal History, University of South Florida Law Review, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, and French Historical Review.

The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website: http://www.aallnet.org/sections/lhrb/awards. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., April 17, 2017 (EDT).

Der Reichs-Stadt Kaufbeuren Gerichts-Ordnung
January 19, 2017

One of our outstanding acquisitions of 2016 was a lovely calligraphic manuscript with a hand-painted image of Lady Justice. The image was the unanimous choice to adorn the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s 2016-2017 holiday card.

The manuscript is titled Der Reichs-Stadt Kaufbeuren Gerichts-Ordnung. It is a comprehensive guide to court procedure in the imperial city of Kaufbeuren in Bavaria, dated 1756 and authored by a local judge (“Gerichts Assessor”), Georg Friedrich Heinzelmann.

The image depicts a blindfolded Lady Justice with her left hand resting on the coat of arms of Kaufbeuren. The identification coat of arms in the lower right of the image had me and some of my colleagues stumped. One book dealer friend speculated that it might have some connection with St. Francis of Assisi, because of the figure with a bird in his hand. Not being familiar with this type of research, I made a number of Google image searches based on guesses, none of which uncovered an answer.

However, one of the recipients of our holiday card has come to the rescue. My friend Michael Laird, a rare book dealer in Lockhart, Texas, identified the arms as those of the author’s family, Heinzelmann, and helpfully provided the source as proof: Neubecker, Grosses Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon, p. 134. Thank you, Michael!

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Novae narrationes (1561)
January 3, 2017

The Rare Book Collection is honored to be the recipient of a bequest from the estate of Professor S. F. C. Milsom (1923-2016): the 1561 Richard Tottel edition of the Novae Narrationes. What makes the gift special is the stature of its donor, the book’s connection to Milsom’s career, and Milsom’s connection to the Yale Law School.

Professor Milsom (“Toby” to his friends and family) has been called the “dominant intellectual voice in English legal historiography” for the last fifty years by his colleague David Ibbetson. In a eulogy to Milsom, Sir John H. Baker said, “He was perhaps the last writer in legal academia whose works could be regarded as literature.” Milsom is best known for his groundbreaking book, Historical Foundations of the Common Law (2nd edition 1981).

Milsom’s first publication in legal history was Novae Narrationes (1963), Volume 80 in the Publications of the Selden Society series. The Novae narrationes was a collection of model oral pleadings (“narrationes” or “counts”) which initiated litigation, dating from the reign of Edward I in the late 13th century. As Milsom described them, “The count became the formal opening gambit in a game in which many moves were possible, and dexterity in making these moves became the preoccupation of the bar.” The 1561 printed edition of the Novae narrationes was the last of four printed editions. The volume’s immaculate condition suggests that Milsom did not use it in his original research for the Selden Society volume, but he knew its contents intimately and it undoubtedly held a special place in his affections.

Milsom’s academic career was primarily in his native England, at Oxford, the London School of Economics, and finally at his alma mater, the University of Cambridge, where he was Professor of Law from 1976 until his retirement in 1990. Milsom was in great demand as a visiting professor at U.S. law schools, and nowhere more than at the Yale Law School, where he was a visiting professor from 1968 to 1986. He recalled his time at Yale in an oral history interview: “It’s always fun, because the students have no idea at all about legal history, and don’t really want to know. But they … ask very difficult questions, and that’s good, makes one think.”

Lesley Dingle and Daniel Bates provide a thorough and lively account of Milsom’s career in the Eminent Scholars Archive of the Squire Law Library, University of Cambridge. It includes a bibliography of Milsom’s writings and videos of his oral history interviews.

The book itself is a fine copy. It boasts a Riviere binding and the bookplate of Thomas Jolley, whose enormous book collection was dispersed in a series of Sotheby’s auctions from 1843 to 1855. It consists of three works: (1) the Novae narrationes; (2) Articuli ad narrationes novas, a commentary on the first work, and (3) Diversite des courtes & lour iurisdictions, a guide to court procedure. All of these would have been useful works for a practicing lawyer, and the small format would have made the book handy in court. The table at the end of the second work has been annotated in an early hand; see the image below.

One final point of interest… The book was published by Richard Tottel, who held the patent for printing English law books from 1552 to his death in 1594. Among other things, Tottel is known for spelling his own last name 11 ways, including two different ways in this one book: “Tottell” on the title page and “Tottil” in the colophon.

The Law Library thanks Mr. Charles Perrin, the administrator of Professor Milsom’s estate, and Sir John Baker for their help in effecting Professor Milsom’s bequest.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

 Cuba y sus jueces, by Raimundo Cabrera (1895)
November 15, 2016

A number of our recent acquisitions are in the field of Cuban law. Here are some of the highlights.

Raimundo Cabrera (1852-1923), Cuba y sus jueces: rectificaciones oportunas (8. ed.; Filadelfia: Cía. Lévytype, 1895).
Cabrera was a jurist, writer, journalist, and a leader in the fight for Cuban independence. His book is an extended argument for Cuban home rule. This edition was probably published in Philadelphia because the armed struggle for Cuban independence was in full swing by 1895. An English translation, Cuba and the Cubans, was issued the following year by the same publisher.

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1867-1928), ¿Toros? (Habana: Compañía Editora de Libros y Folletos, 1940).
The text is a short story by Blasco Ibáñez, a prominent Spanish writer. There is an epigraph, “¿Permitiremos en nuestra Cuba un espectáculo tan cruel y anticubano?”, which in English is “In our Cuba, will we permit such a cruel and anti-Cuban spectacle?” The front cover is inscribed “Sr. Segundo Curtis / Ministro de Gobernación / Habana Oct. 1951”. Only two other U.S. libraries report owning copies.

13 leyes de gobierno revolucionario (Ministerio de Estado República de Cuba, 1960?). DALA Suplemento; no. 1.
This publication of the Departamento de Asuntos Latinoamericanos, aimed at a Latin American audience, gives special prominence to the agrarian reform laws. Only two other U.S. libraries report owning copies. The introduction states: “Economic underdevelopment has been the fundamental cause of the problems of social injustice, political instability, administrative corruption, and cultural backwardness that we Cubans have suffered, and the legal dispositions recently enacted have been aimed at eliminating this condition of inferiority, the cause of our ills, by transforming the semi-feudal economic structure we inherited from the colony.” [MW translation]

Mario Díaz Irizar, Comentarios a las leyes de marcas y patentes (Habana: Imprenta V. Alvarez Hno. y comp., 1917).
This treatise on Cuban trademark and patent law features dozens of stunning full-color illustrations of Cuban trademarks, including 22 leaves of plates. Only four other U.S. libraries have copies.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Illustration from Mario Díaz Irizar, Comentarios a las leyes de marcas y patentes (1917).

Commission from Doge Andrea Gritti appointing Federico Renier as governor of Verona, 1530.
November 7, 2016

The role of imagery in the governance of Renaissance Venice will be explored in an exhibit talk sponsored by the Yale Law Library. Christopher W. Platts (History of Art, Yale University) will speak on “Representing the Law in Renaissance Venice: Images of Authority from the Reigns of Doges Leonardo Loredan (1501-21) and Andrea Gritti (1523-38)” on November 11, 2016, at 1pm in Room 121 of the Yale Law School.

Platts co-curated the Law Library’s current exhibition, “Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic: Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice,” with Mike Widener, the Law Library’s rare book librarian. The exhibit is on display through December 16, 2016, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, on Level L2 of the Sterling Law Building.

The exhibition draws on the outstanding collection of Italian law books in the Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, along with drawings and medals from the Yale University Art Gallery and reproductions from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. A catalogue of the exhibition is available online.

Platts is a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art Department at Yale. His dissertation treats the development of Venetian Gothic painting during the early fourteenth century. Before Yale he trained in art history at Harvard and the Courtauld Institute in London, and at Yale he took an MPhil in Medieval Studies. The Law Library exhibit is not his first. At the Getty Museum in Los Angeles he conceived and co-curated the 2015 exhibition “Renaissance Splendors from the Northern Italian Courts.”

For more information, contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, phone 203-432-4494, email <mike.widener@yale.edu>.

October 2, 2016

Those who cannot visit the Law Library to view our colorful new exhibit, “Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic: Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice,” now have two options for viewing the exhibit online.

The exhibition catalogue has been published as a PDF document in the Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. The catalogue includes a brief bibliography of suggested readings.

In addition, an album on the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site presents a slightly abbreviated version of the exhibit.

Christopher Platts and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many colleagues who helped make this exhibit possible. – MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Farley P. Katz

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Moira Fitzgerald, Access Services
Anna Franz, Access Services
Kathryn James, Early Modern Collections
Anne Marie Menta, Public Services
John Monohan, Public Services

History of Art, Harvard University
Charlotte Gray

History of Art, Yale Univesity
Jakub Koguciuk

Yale Law School
Jan Conroy, Public Affairs
Shana Jackson, Law Library
Emma Molina Widener, Law Library

Yale University Art Gallery
Lynne Addison, Registrar’s Office
Suzanne Boorsch, Prints & Drawings
Diana Brownell, Prints & Drawings
Theresa Fairbanks-Harris, Conservation
Suzanne Greenawalt, Prints and Drawings
Laurence Kanter, European Art
Nancy Macgregor, Registrar’s Office
Rachel Mihalko, Registrar’s Office
Jane Miller, Coins and Medals
Heather Nolin, Exhibitions
Christopher Sleboda, Graphic Design
David Whaples, Digital Media

Yale University Library
Tara Kennedy, Preservation
Amanda Patrick, Communications

Image: Constitutio pro Consiliariis Reipublicas Venetiarum (1568). Rare Book Collection, Yale Law Library.

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