Rare Books Blog

John Selden, Table-talk : being the discourses of John Selden Esq., or his sence of various matters of weight and high consequence relating especially to religion and state (London, 1689)
October 23, 2013

John Selden, Table-talk (1689), with arms of John Poulett.

Selden (1584-1664), was one of the great English jurists, a polymath and prolific scholar.  He treated subjects ranging from English law, to archeology, and was the outstanding English Hebraist of his age.  He served in the House of Commons, and was imprisoned for a time in the Tower of London.  In an ironic and maybe triumphant twist, Selden was later made keeper of the rolls and records of the Tower.  While Selden is remembered most today among legal scholars for his work on international law, Table-talk was a more popular and accessible work.  It offers short observations on legal topics, and theological issues like free will, as well as opinions on subjects like friendship.  

The English aristocrat John Poulett (1663-1743) served in government as First Lord of the Treasury and later was elected a Knight of the Garter.  His monogram shows the initials J P beneath the coronet of a baron. 

  

“Armorial Bindings,” an exhibit curated by Ryan Greenwood, is on display from September 23 to December 18, 2013, and is located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Lectures on law delivered in Litchfield / by Josias H. Coggeshall (1809-10).
October 22, 2013

The study of early American legal education takes a step forward with the launch of the Litchfield Law School Sources website, as part of the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Document Collection Center.

The Law Library is proud to provide an online home to the project, funded by the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, that “brings together text, images, interpretive material and bibliography about Litchfield Law School and the law notebooks kept by its students.”

The Litchfield Law School Sources site includes a catalog of all 270 surviving notebooks from 90 Litchfield students, now housed at 36 different libraries, and links to those notebooks that have already been digitized. The site also provides an overview of the law school’s curriculum, links to biographical information on the faculty and students, and other research tools. The website is still very much a work in progress, so expect to see additions and improvements.

Our Rare Book Collection is proud to have the largest single collection of Litchfield notebooks: 75 volumes by 21 students. One of these is shown at left: the 6-volume Lectures on law delivered in Litchfield (1809-1810), belonging to Josiah H. Coggeshall. Plans are underway to digitize them and make them available via the Litchfield Law School Sources site.

Thanks to the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation for sponsoring this project, to Whitney Bagnall who has prepared the site’s content, and to my colleagues Jason Eiseman and Jordan Jefferson for bringing the website online.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Clarence Darrow's inscription to Pearl Ball
October 16, 2013

Clarence Darrow’s inscribed copy (to “Pearle” M. Ball) of his first book, A Persian Pearl (1899).

At John King Books in Detroit, I discovered an autographed copy of Clarence Darrow’s rare first book: A Persian Pearl (1899). Although the spine is crumbling, the title page like the rest of the book is beautifully typeset.

The inscription is fascinating. It is addressed to “Pearle M. Ball, with the compliments of C.S. Darrow.” When the book was published, Pearl (the correct spelling) Ball was a 22-year-old unmarried woman. According to a Illinois Supreme Court opinion, she died just two years later “suddenly in Chicago at her father’s house, where she lived, on the evening of August 28, 1901.” Ball v. Evening Am. Pub. Co., 237 Ill. 592, 602 (1908).

“Deep mystery shrouds the facts of pretty girl’s death,” a newspaper reported. On the night of her death, Miss Ball was accompanied to a local wine room by a tall man of unknown identity. There a scuffle ensued and she cried for help, claiming that the man had insulted her honor. The bartender ejected her companion and sent her home in a taxi. Shortly after reaching home, Miss Ball collapsed and died in her father’s front foyer, the victim of poisoning. The police never found her unknown companion.

When a Chicago newspaper ran a story the following day about the strange circumstances of the young woman’s death, it printed a picture of another young Chicagoan named Rose Ball—who was very much alive and very much offended. She sued for libel, and the lawsuit went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Darrow’s partner, Edgar Lee Masters, represented the newspaper in the libel suit. This copy of Darrow’s 1899 book is the only known connection between Darrow and Pearl Ball. Biographers have never before connected them.

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

John C. Townes inscription to Ira P. Hildebrand
October 16, 2013

John C. Townes’s inscribed copy (to Ira P. Hildebrand) of his book Law Books and How to Use Them (1909).

John C. Townes, for whom the main building at the University of Texas School of Law is named, was the first dean of the law school (1902–1903, 1907–1923), where he served on the faculty from 1896 to 1923. Townes wrote five books, ranging from torts to jurisprudence to Texas pleading. This small book on legal bibliography and research he inscribed to Ira P. Hildebrand (1876–1944), a native Texan who received his law degree from Harvard in 1902. Hildebrand would become the third dean at Texas, from 1924 to 1940.

In 1942, Hildebrand would dedicate his four-volume treatise in part to the memory of John C. Townes—in addition to other such notable legal scholars as James Barr Ames, John Chipman Gray, and James Bradley Thayer, who were Harvard faculty members at the turn of the century and doubtless taught Hildebrand there.

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Edward Abbott Parry's inscription to Leonard Moore
October 16, 2013

Edward Abbott Parry’s inscribed copy (to Leonard Moore) of his book What the Judge Thought (1922).

British judge Sir Edward Abbott Parry came from a long legal lineage. His father, John Humffreys Parry, was a barrister and serjeant-at-law; his grandfather was a lawyer as well. Edward himself was first a barrister, then a county judge for Manchester and Lambeth counties. He gained prominence as a chair of various tribunals, including the Pension Appeal Tribunal, on which he based his book War Pensions: Past and Present (1918). Knighted in 1927, Parry was also a prolific author, dramatist, and theater producer. He wrote several books and plays for children in addition to his legal writings.

Parry inscribed this copy of his legal essays to Leonard Moore, “with all good wishes from his grateful client.” The recipient was probably Leonard Parker Moore (d. 1959), a literary agent and partner at the Christy & Moore agency in London. Moore represented many other notable authors, the most prominent among them being George Orwell.

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Senator Sam Ervin's autograph
October 16, 2013

Senator Sam Ervin’s copy of Fifty Famous Trials (1937) by R. Cornelius Raby.

Samuel James Ervin Jr. (1896-1985) was born and raised in Morganton, North Carolina. He volunteered for World War I and earned several awards, including the Silver Star, for his service in France with the American Expeditionary Force. After returning from the war, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, graduating in 1922.

Though Ervin served as a judge on various courts in North Carolina, including the state supreme court, he is best known for his 20 years in the United States Senate (1954-1974). While there, he was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and, most notably, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities—better known as the Watergate Committee—in the hearings that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. If Nixon had undergone an impeachment trial in the Senate, it would have eclipsed in fame any of the 50 famous trials recounted in this book. Ervin retired from the Senate in 1974, before the end of his term, and spent the rest of his life writing and practicing law until his death in 1985.

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Fred Rodell, inscription to "Mayor La Guardia"
October 16, 2013

Fred Rodell’s inscribed copy (to “my favorite statesman”) of his book Woe Unto You, Lawyers! (1939).

Born in Philadelphia, Rodell graduated from Yale Law School in 1931, where he served as case and comment editor for the Yale Law Journal. He joined the Yale law faculty in 1933 and taught there for the next 41 years.

An iconoclast from the beginning, Rodell wrote “Goodbye to Law Reviews”—perhaps the most widely read and most controversial law-review article ever written—when he was only a very junior faculty member. He preferred to write for journalistic outlets such as Saturday Review, The Progressive, and The New York Times Magazine. He taught a popular class at Yale on legal journalism.

His 1939 book Woe Unto You, Lawyers! was his most famous. He charged that the legal profession was a “pseudo-intellectual autocracy” (p. 3). Rodell inscribed this copy to his “favorite statesman.” Examination under a black light reveals the obscured name to be “Mayor La Guardia,” i.e. Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), the charismatic mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945.

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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