Rare Books Blog

March 17, 2011

The Law Librarians of New England are meeting today here at the Yale Law School. In honor of their visit, I’ve posted a new gallery in our Flickr site, “Law Libraries”, with images of both real and imaginary law libraries. Below is one of my favorites, the frontispiece for the 1743 edition of a popular legal bibliography, Bibliotheca iuris selecta by Burkhard Gotthelf von Struve (1671-1738). Struve’s legal bibliography was first published in 1703 and went through nine editions. It’s interesting to note that a direct descendent of the author, Henry Clay von Struve (1874-1933), was the first fulltime law librarian of the University of Texas Law Library, in 1895.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

March 17, 2011

 

“Yes: the Dark Knight went to Yale.” That is the verdict of the Yale Alumni Magazine. Inspired by our “Superheroes in Court!” exhibit, the magazine devoted the cover and three articles in its March/April 2011 issue to Batman’s J.D. from the Yale Law School, set out in our exhibit and here in the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog (by far the most-viewed post in the history of our blog, with over 7,000 views as of today).

The issue contains three articles on the Caped Crusader and Yale:

  • In “Holy Eli, Batman!”, graphic artist Chip Kidd examines the evidence. He discards the Yale connections from the 1960s television show as “meaningless,” especially for “true Bat-geeks” who despise the campy show for turning their hero into “the ultimate costumed laughingstock.” However, he accepts the diploma on Bruce Wayne’s office wall at face value, and concludes that Yale’s emphasis on community service is entirely consistent with Batman’s role as “an urban steward.”
  • Kathryn Day Lassila ‘81, the editor of the Yale Alumni Magazine, tracked down and interviewed the artist who drew the Yale Law School diploma in “Why Batman Went to Yale.”
  • My Law Library colleague Fred Shapiro, a regular contributor to the Yale Alumni Magazine, reviews memorable Batman quotations in “Bruce Wayne’s Verbal Legacy.”

The credit for discovering Batman’s Yale Law School diploma goes to the Hon. Mark Dwyer, Judge of the Court of Claims (Supreme Court of the State of New York) and a 1975 graduate of the Yale Law School. Dwyer himself credits a fellow law student for showing him the comic, and acknowledges the help of William Lee Frost, Yale Law 1951.

 

 

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

March 4, 2011

Among the most outstanding illustrated law books of all times is an edition of Justinian’s Institutes published by a member of the Giunta printing dynasty of Venice, Instituta novissime recognita aptissimisq[ue] figuris exculta (Venice: Luca-Antonio Giunta, 1516). The “aptissimae figurae” are small woodcut vignettes that introduce 22 of the titles in the Institutes. Below is the woodcut for Inst. 2.10, De testamentis ordinandis (Of the execution of wills), showing a man dictating his last will from his sickbed. The Roman emperor Justinian promulgated the Institutes as a textbook for students of Roman law, and remained the standard introduction to Roman law for students throughout the medieval and early modern periods.

All 22 woodcuts are in a new gallery on our Flickr site, Justinian’s Institutes illustrated. The images appear first in two-page spreads, showing them in context, and then as cropped images of the woodcuts themselves. The image titles cite the title of the Institutes where the woodcut appears (i.e. “Inst.2.10” is Book 2, Title 10 of the Institutes), followed by the title in Latin and an English translation taken from R. W. Lee, The Elements of Roman Law, with a Translation of the Institutes of Justinian (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1944).

This edition of the Institutes is stylistically a companion to the three heavily illustrated volumes of the Corpus Juris Canonici that Luca-Antonio Giunta published in 1514: Gratian’s Decretum, the Decretals of Gregory IX, and the Liber Sextus of Boniface VIII, all of which we were fortunate to acquire in 2009.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

 

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