Rare Books Blog

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.

Built by Association
September 28, 2013

“Association copies,” books once owned by their authors or other well-known individuals, have long been sought after by collectors. An outstanding private collection of books associated with famous judges and lawyers is now on display at the Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers,” features books from the collection of Bryan A. Garner, the world’s leading legal lexicographer. They include books inscribed by John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Clarence Darrow, the most famous trial lawyer in American history. Other notable figures include Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Benjamin Cardozo, and Lindley Murray, a lawyer best known as “the father of English grammar.” Three of the authors taught at Yale Law School: Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Judge Jerome Frank, and the iconoclastic Professor Fred Rodell.

Bryan A. Garner has been editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary since 1996. He has authored many other standard reference works in legal lexicography and legal writing, including Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage (3rd ed. 2011), The Elements of Legal Style (2nd ed. 2002), and The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (3rd ed. 2013). He is the co-author with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia of Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008) and Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (2012). Garner is also the author of Garner’s Modern American Usage (3rd ed. 2009), published by Oxford University Press. Garner is the owner of LawProse, which conducts seminars in legal writing around the world. He is also Distinguished Research Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University. His personal book collection has over 35,000 volumes.

Garner curated the exhibit, with assistance from Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian.

The exhibit is open to the public, 9am-10pm daily, September 23 - December 18, 2013 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Arrival of Kuttner Institute Library
September 14, 2013

On Friday (Sept. 13), the library of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law arrived at its new home in the Lillian Goldman Law Library. This weekend it is being installed in the Law Library’s Upper East Side, next to the fish tank.

This outstanding collection of research materials draws scholars from around the world. It contains over 2,000 monographs and 15,000 offprints from the private library of Stephan Kuttner, the Institute’s founder and one of the 20th century’s most influential scholars of medieval law, as well as microfilms of approximately 670 medieval manuscripts.

This is the second time the Institute and its collection have resided at Yale. Kuttner founded the Institute of Medieval Canon Law in 1955 at Catholic University of America. In 1964 Kuttner and the Institute moved to Yale, and its library was housed in the Sterling Memorial Library. In 1970 the Institute moved to the Robbins Collection, University of California-Berkeley. When Kuttner died in 1996, the Institute was renamed the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law in honor of its late founder, and it moved to its most recent home at the University of Munich.

The Institute’s library will remain in the Lillian Goldman Law Library for the next 25 years, with an option to renew the arrangement. The materials will not circulate but must be used in the Law Library.

Plans are being made to add records for the Institute’s library to the Law Library’s online catalog, MORRIS. In the meantime, researchers can use the library’s existing online catalog for monographs and microfilms, and a database for the offprint collection.

Thanks to the Kuttner Institute’s president, Professor Peter Landau of the University of Munich, and its Secretary Anders Winroth, the Forst Family Professor of History here at Yale University, for making this move possible. thanks to all my Law Library colleagues who helped with the move: Law Library Director Blair Kauffman, Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Fred Shapiro, Julian Aiken, Cesar Zapata, Susan Karpuk, Ryan Greenwood, Ben Bernard, Antonio Malabag, Liliane McClenning, and Shana Jackson.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Professor Anders Winroth helps unpack the library of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law.

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