Rare Books Blog

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.

The Common Law Epitomiz'd
September 2, 2014

“The Common Law Epitomiz’d: Anthony Taussig’s Law Books” is the latest exhibit from the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book collection. It showcases the Law Library’s acquisitions from the greatest private collection of rare English law books ever assembled: the collection of Anthony Taussig.

Anthony Taussig, a London barrister, assembled his outstanding collection of rare law books and manuscripts over a 35-year period.

The exhibit is on display through November 15, 2014, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library (127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT).

The books on display include the very first printed book of English law, the first book on women’s rights in English law, the first justice of the peace manual, notes from Sir William Blackstone’s Oxford lectures, a trove of pamphlets on law reform, and a relic of the opening salvo in the struggle to abolish slavery. The acquisition was made possible by generous grants from Yale Law School’s Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund.

The exhibit was curated by Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Yale Law Library, and Ryan Greenwood, Rare Book Librarian at the University of Minnesota Law Library and the 2013-14 Yale Law Library Rare Book Fellow.

Running concurrently is “Uncommon Law: A Celebration of the Taussig Collection,” an exhibition at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The exhibition features Taussig’s outstanding collection of legal manuscripts acquired by the Beinecke. It is on display September 5 through December 15.

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

Statuti, e leggi della Valle Seriana Superiore (Bergamo, 1769)
August 15, 2014

The core of our outstanding collection of early Italian municipal statutes is a private collection purchased in 1946. Thanks to Rare Book Cataloger Susan Karpuk, this original collection, “Italian Statutes Collection, 1946 (Accession no. 46-209)”, is now reunited in the Law Library’s online catalog, MORRIS, and can be browsed via a collection-level record here. The link brings together 643 records for printed books and 51 for manuscripts.

The library purchased this collection in 1946 from the Italian bookdealer Nardecchia, in Samuel Thorne’s first year as Law Librarian. In his annual report for the 1945-46 academic year, Thorne wrote:

“The outstanding acquisition of the year was the notable collection of Italian statuta, numbering almost nine hundred volumes, purchased from a learned Italian lawyer who had brought it, over a period of fifty years, to its present completeness. It contained fifty-two manuscripts of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, nine incunabula, and many sixteenth-century editions, more than a few unknown to Luigi Manzoni whose Bibliografia statutaria e storica italiana is the standard bibliography of the class.”

In 2008, a representative of Nardecchia reported that it had no records of the sale or of the identity of the “learned Italian lawyer” who built the collection. One of the goals in identifying the volumes that made up this collection was to find clues to the collector’s identity. We indeed found some clues, inscriptions in several of the 20th-century volumes, and are in the process of investigating them.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Battista Aimo, De alluvionum iure universo (Bologna, 1580).
July 20, 2014

My friend and collaborator Mark Weiner has produced the latest installment in his series of videos on rare law books. “Water, Paper, Law” is an almost poetic meditation, in which “an eighteenth-century Italian legal treatise about water inspires some thoughts about law, rare books, and the passage of time.” I’ve embedded the video below. You can also view it on Weiner’s Worlds of Law blog. When the video appeared on the Environment, Law, and History blog, blogger David Schorr wrote “I’d love to hear more about these works!”. In partial satisfaction, here’s a list of the books that Mark included in the video:

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Front cover, Leggi ... della provincia d'Istria (1757)
June 13, 2014

A question about Italian block-printed paper on the the EXLIBRIS-L listserv a couple of weeks ago reminded me that we have several lovely examples in our collection. I scanned all the examples I could find and put them in a new album, Italian block-printed paper, on the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site.

My thanks to Lenore Rouse, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Catholic University, for citing several sources of information on Italian block-printed paper:

  • Rosamund Loring, Decorated Book Papers (Cambridge: Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, 2007).
  • Richard J. Wolfe, Marbled Paper: Its History, Techniques, and Patterns (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990); see especially this excerpt on Google Books where Wolfe discusses the role of the Remondini family in the manufacture of block-printed papers).
  • Tanya Schmoller, Remondini and Rizzi: A Chapter in Italian Decorated Paper History (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, 1990).

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

 

Portrait of Sir William Blackstone
June 6, 2014

“Blackstone Goes Hollywood” is the latest video production by our friend Mark Weiner. What better location to shoot a video about Sir William Blackstone than our Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room, home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Blackstoniana? And there is certainly no one better to interview than Wilfrid Prest, Professor Emeritus at the University of Adelaide and the world’s leading expert on Blackstone.

You can view “Blackstone Goes Hollywood” on Weiner’s Worlds of Law blog, and on YouTube.

In addition to talking with Mark Weiner about Blackstone, Prest spent time working with me on an upcoming exhibit. In Spring 2015 Prest and I will co-curate an exhibit marking the 250th anniversary of the publication of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, the single most influential book in the history of Anglo-American common law. Plans are for the exhibit to go on display March-June 2015 at the Yale Law Library, and then travel to the Middle Temple in London in Fall 2015, and end up at the University of Adelaide in December 2015.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian


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