Rare Books Blog

 Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii [= Complete collection of the laws of the Russian empire]. St. Petersburg, 1839-1873.
October 23, 2013

Heraldic devices were – and still are – sources of pride for individuals and families.  Arms traditionally denote rank within a nobility, indicate prestigious associations and suggest aspects of personal and familial identity.  In medieval Europe, arms became customary for nobles who constituted a distinct military caste, and evolved by the Renaissance into signs of privilege and self-branding.

The creation and elaborate description, or blazoning, of arms was not restricted to families of European lay nobility, but extended to churchmen, cities and other corporate entities (one example is the beautiful Russian imperial arms at left).  

Armorial bindings, often showing the heraldic device stamped in gilt on the upper cover of a book, are also visually striking collectors’ items.  The volumes on display in this exhibit, all from the Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, range from the arms of an Italian Cardinal, to those of The Hague, to the monograms of British nobility.  The decorative bindings can be found on elaborate presentation copies which are unique artistic productions, or may grace a series with identical and more quotidian stamps. 

Thirteen of the armorial bindings in the Rare Book Collection, and five in the case, have been identified in the British Armorial Bindings database, created by John Morris and continued and edited by Philip Oldfield.  The project is hosted by the University of Toronto libraries, under the sponsorship of The Bibliographical Society of London.  The database is an outstanding resource for further research, and I have also used it in preparing the exhibit.

– RYAN GREENWOOD, Rare Book Fellow

“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

Jerome Frank's inscription to Learned Hand
October 16, 2013

Judge Jerome Frank’s inscribed copy (to Learned Hand) of his book Fate and Freedom: A Philosophy for Free Americans (1945).

Jerome Frank (1889-1957) graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1912. As a lawyer, he specialized in corporate finance and reorganization. Frank’s first book, Law and the Modern Mind (1930), provided a psychoanalytical critique of the law that cemented his reputation as a legal realist. His other major work, Courts on Trial (1949), expressed his skepticism regarding how the judicial system determines “what the facts are.”

Frank made his principal contribution to American law as a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. From his appointment in 1941 until his death, Frank wrote wide-reaching opinions that shaped the laws of obscenity, adhesion contracts, so-called “private attorneys-general,” and labor relations.

A few years ago I ordered this copy of Fate and Freedom from an Internet seller. When the book arrived, I found to my amazement that it was inscribed by Frank to Learned Hand, who served with Frank on the Second Circuit.

Frank’s assessment of Hand’s wisdom was no private matter. In a 1955 Yale Law School lecture, published in 1957 and anthologized in 1965, Frank declared: “Learned Hand, who both thinks deeply and feels deeply, sees life as a marvelous comic-tragedy. … He has a love for and an understanding of his fellow creatures, like him, humanly fallible. I commend him to you as a great man and as our wisest judge.”

          – 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.

Learned Hand's inscription, to Judge Edward Lumbard
October 16, 2013

Judge Learned Hand’s inscribed copy (to Judge Edward Lumbard) of his book The Bill of Rights (1958).

Learned Hand graduated from Harvard College in 1892 and from Harvard Law School in 1895. Appointed to the federal district court in New York in 1909, Hand enjoyed one of the longest tenures on the federal bench (52 years) of all 20th-century judges. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge elevated Hand to the Second Circuit, where he served until his death in 1961.

As a judge, Hand set high standards for clarity of expression and judicial craftsmanship. It is little wonder that he has been quoted more often than any lower-court judge by legal scholars and by the United States Supreme Court. He advocated strongly for free speech, famously arguing in Masses Publishing Co. v. Patten (1917) that the First Amendment should protect all speech that does not incite others to illegal action.

Although Hand twice came close to getting appointed to the Supreme Court, opponents blocked him for political reasons on both occasions. Yet the tough-minded Hand is generally considered to be a greater judge than all but a few of his contemporaries who sat on the Supreme Court.

Judge Hand inscribed the book here displayed to a colleague on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: “To J. Edward Lumbard [1901–1999], a wise and considerate colleague and a strong support.” Lumbard served with Hand from 1955 to 1961.

          – 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.

October 16, 2013

Lindley Murray’s English Grammar (8th ed. 1802) inscribed (to Samuel Miller) by “the author.”

Lindley Murray is best known as “the father of English grammar.” But before he earned that title, he practiced law in New York. In fact, he acted in the 1760s as the legal mentor of John Jay, who would later become the first Chief Justice of the United States. In 1785, Murray emigrated from New York to York, England. He gave up the practice of law and began writing grammar books in 1795. Over the next 50 years, he became the best-selling author in the world, with some 15 million copies of his literacy books then in print.

This copy of Murray’s Grammar is inscribed by the author to the noted Presbyterian theologian Samuel Miller (1769–1850) of Princeton Theological Seminary. Although the book contains the Miller family’s bookplate commemorating the donation, the university discarded the book in 2005.

          – 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.

Arthur Male's inscription to Lord Brougham
October 16, 2013

Lord Brougham’s signed copy of Law of Elections (1818) by Arthur Male.

Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868), was a British statesman, member of Parliament, and, from 1830 to 1834, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.

Brougham entered the House of Commons in 1810, but it was not until his successful defense of Queen Caroline in her 1820 adultery trial that he would gain popular renown. He remained in Parliament until 1830, when he was appointed Lord Chancellor and raised to the peerage. He was an ardent and effective political reformer throughout his life, and according to The Oxford Companion to Law (1980), “[h]is contribution to the law lay in promotion of legislative reforms rather than in judicial work.” As Lord Chancellor, he abolished several obsolete courts, created the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the Central Criminal Court, and was instrumental in the passage of an 1833 statute that abolished slavery throughout the British Empire.

This 1818 first edition of the barrister Arthur Male’s Law of Elections contains the handwritten note “With the author’s compliments” on the front free endpaper. On the following page, Brougham has written his name clearly at the upper right-hand corner.

          – 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.

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.

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