Rare Books Blog

Justice William O. Douglas, inscription to Olla Bennett
October 15, 2013

Justice William O. Douglas’s inscribed copy (to Ola Bennett) of his book Of Men and Mountains (1950).

Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980) was the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court of the United States. He worked his way through school, and eventually graduated fifth in the class of 1925 at Columbia Law School. He practiced briefly with a major firm before leaving to teach law, first at Columbia and then at Yale. He entered government service in 1934 and became an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. When FDR appointed him to replace Justice Louis D. Brandeis in 1939, Douglas, at 40, was among the youngest justices ever to join the Supreme Court.

Douglas wrote the opinions in many spotlight cases, including Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949) and Griswold v. Connecticut, 81 U.S. 479 (1965). In 1950, after he granted a temporary stay of execution to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg—convicted as Soviet spies—Congress briefly considered impeaching him. And in 1970 future President Gerald R. Ford led impeachment hearings against Douglas, partly because of his business associations but also because of his “liberal opinions.”

Douglas was a prolific author on nonlegal matters, writing numerous books on history, politics, foreign relations, and—one of his favorite subjects—conservation, including A Wilderness Bill of Rights (1965) and the book displayed here, Of Men and Mountains (1950).

Douglas inscribed this copy “with warm regards and best wishes” to Ola Bennett, who at the time was an administrative assistant in the Farm Labor section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

          – 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.

Bookplate of Chief Justice Warren Burger
October 15, 2013

Chief Justice Warren E. Burger’s copy of Judges of the United States (1978), with bookplate.

Warren Earl Burger (1907-1995) was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1969 to 1986. A 1931 graduate of the St. Paul College of Law (now William Mitchell College of Law), Burger practiced with a noted law firm for the next 20 years, while also starting his career in Republican politics.

In 1952, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Burger Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division of the Justice Department. He represented the United States in several cases before the Supreme Court, including Dalehite v. United States, 346 U.S. 15 (1953). In 1956, Eisenhower named him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969.

In Rockville, Maryland, I found Chief Justice Burger’s copy of the useful deskbook Judges of the United States, which contains biographies of all the federal judges who had served by the time it was issued in 1978. It bears Burger’s bookplate inside the front cover.

          – 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.

Sir Frederick Pollock, inscription to Arthur Raynard Talbot
October 15, 2013

Sir Frederick Pollock’s inscribed copy (to Arthur Maynard Talbot) of A Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms (1855) by H.H. Wilson.

Frederick Pollock (1845–1937) graduated from Eton College, where he was a King’s Scholar, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected a fellow in 1868. Called to the bar in 1871, Pollock became tremendously successful with a series of works that synthesized the law in different areas. His works served as blueprints for modern textbooks by emphasizing underlying legal principles and presenting them in readable form. His most influential works include Principles of Contract (1876), Essays in Jurisprudence and Ethics (1882), and The Law of Torts (1887).

Pollock taught at Oxford (1883–1903) and was the first editor of the Law Quarterly Review, which was founded in 1885. His book The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (1895), written with F.W. Maitland, is still a primary reference source for scholars of medieval law.

At Meyer Boswell Books in San Francisco some years ago, I found the highly unusual Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms (1855). Its terminology relates to British India. This particular copy belonged to Pollock. The proof of Pollock’s ownership is a laid-in autographed letter from Pollock to Arthur Maynard Talbot, who was about to become a judge in British India.

          – 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.

Autograph of John Jay
October 11, 2013

Chief Justice John Jay’s signed copy of The Conveyancer’s Guide (1821), with inlaid bookplate.

This 1821 edition of The Conveyancer’s Guide—oddly enough, an extended poem about the thoroughly prosaic craft of conveyancing—was owned and signed by John Jay (1745–1829), the first Chief Justice of the United States. Jay’s bookplate, depicting his coat of arms, is laid in. Schooled in law practice by Lindley Murray, Jay served as Chief Justice from 1789 to 1795, but resigned when he was elected the second governor of New York. Jay died eight years after this book’s publication.

          – 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.

Booklabel of Justice Noah Swayne
October 11, 2013

Justice Noah Swayne’s copy of Giles Jacob’s New Law Dictionary (1782).

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Noah H. Swayne (1804–1884) served on the Court from 1862 to 1881. Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln, Swayne spent much of his time lobbying to be appointed Chief Justice. His judicial career has been called (in the American National Biography) a “monument to mediocrity.”

The endpapers give clues to the book’s previous owners before I acquired it around 2004. The original owner seems to have been John Buckland, a cleric who received degrees from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1762, 1765, 1769, and 1778. Buckland died in 1837 in Warborough, Oxfordshire. Later the book became the property of Justice Swayne, who in 1872 miscited it in a Supreme Court opinion, Lapeyre v. U.S., first acknowledging that “it could serve no useful end particularly to refer to [it],” and then referring to it incorrectly as “Jacobs’s” Law Dictionary.) The next known owner was the legal historian Samuel E. Thorne, Professor of Law and Law Librarian at Yale (from 1945) and then law professor at Harvard (from 1956). Thorne died in 1994 at the age of 87. Note that his red bookplate uses the Old English character known as the “thorn.”

          – 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.

Autograph of Justice Benjamin Cardozo
October 11, 2013

Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s signed copy of his book What Medicine Can Do for Law (1930).

Benjamin N. Cardozo (1870-1938) followed in his father’s footsteps as an attorney and New York judge. By the time he took the bench on the New York Court of Appeals in 1914, he had had 23 years of trial and appellate experience in New York City. During his 18 years on that court, he wrote over 500 opinions including, most notably, Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad (1928). In 1932, President Herbert Hoover nominated Cardozo to replace Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to writing his most influential Supreme Court opinions on New Deal legislation—Helvering v. Davis (1937) and Steward Machine Co. v. Davis (1937)—Cardozo also authored The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921) and The Growth of Law (1924). These works originated as lectures he gave at Yale Law School. He tried to explain how judges reach decisions, while emphasizing that judges do not make law.

An interesting fact about Justice Cardozo’s book What Medicine Can Do for Law is that no one I know has ever seen an unsigned copy. This one is no exception.

          – 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.

Bookplate of John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
October 10, 2013

If you collect enough of anything—in my case, it’s 36,000 books—you inevitably acquire some especially unusual and prized specimens. Tracing the provenance of books can be fascinating when the previous owners were people of note. With enough diligent searching, you can find association copies such as these: books inscribed by authors, or uninscribed books that simply belonged to grandees, or—if you’re really lucky—books both inscribed by authors and given to grandees.

This exhibit displays all three types. Early inscriptions, interestingly, are typically “With the compliments of the Author,” or some such notation, without signature. Not until the late 19th century did most authors sign their names. Some authorial signatures bespeak modesty (Holmes, J.); others proclaim flamboyance (Wigmore). All are distinctive.

Occasionally a mystery emerges. How did Clarence Darrow know the tragic Pearl Ball? Why did somebody black out the name of the recipient of Yale law professor Fred Rodell’s book—someone whom Rodell called his “favorite statesman”? How did books once belonging to the likes of Chief Justice John Jay and Judge Learned Hand end up in the stream of commerce?

Occasionally book collectors apologetically ask me to sign one of my books. I always reassure them that I do the same thing—not to worry. I treasure my books inscribed by my mentor, the late Charles Alan Wright; by my coauthor, Justice Scalia; by Sir Robert Megarry, whose last book I finished and edited just after his 96th birthday; and by many other legal dignitaries. It enhances one’s lifelong connection to the book.

Even if you’re merely the temporary caretaker of books, as I am of those here on display, you inevitably feel some sort of ineffable connection with the signatory who handled the book at least long enough to sign it or paste in his bookplate—and may, indeed, have pored over it and savored every precious word.

          – 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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