Rare Books Blog

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.

Ryan Greenwood
September 8, 2013

The Lillian Goldman Law Library is delighted to welcome Ryan Greenwood as its first Yale Law Library Rare Book Fellow. Ryan has a Master’s in Library & Information Science from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. and M.A. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. He has two articles accepted for publication: “Just War and Crusade” (with Frederick H. Russell), forthcoming in The Cambridge History of Medieval Canon Law (2013), and “War and Sovereignty in Medieval Roman Law,” forthcoming in Law and History Review. He was chosen as the 2013-2014 Rare Book Fellow from a highly competitive pool of close to a hundred applicants.

The Yale Law Library Rare Book Fellowship is designed to train the next generation of rare law book librarians. For the next nine months, Ryan will be immersed in all aspects of special collections librarianship in a research law library, including collection development, reference, cataloging, and preservation. He will also spend time working in the Yale University Library’s Manuscripts & Archives, and in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The Yale Law Library Rare Fellowship is supported in part by a contribution from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Selection for the 2014-2015 Rare Book Fellow will take place in Spring 2014. Stay tuned for the announcement.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Image: Consultation pour une jeune fille condamnée à être brûlée vive (Paris: André-Charles Cailleau, 1786).

Taussig Collection of English Law
August 20, 2013

While this blog was on hiatus this summer, news spread of the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s most significant rare book acquisition this year, and one of its most significant ever. I am referring to Anthony Taussig’s collection of English law books and manuscripts. See the June 16 article in the New York Times, “English Gavels Resound in a Trove Headed to Yale,” as well as an article in the Yale Law Report and news releases issued by the Yale Law School and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Anthony Taussig is a retired barrister of Lincoln’s Inn. He began collecting rare law books and manuscripts 35 years ago, and succeeded in forming the one of the finest collections of its kind ever built. While the collection has many outstanding high spots, what is most impressive is its breadth and depth in materials relating to the history of law practice in England, and its research value.

Taussig’s entire manuscript collection went next door to our colleagues at the Beinecke. The Law Library acquired 211 of Taussig’s printed books, which is only a small fraction of his collection. Their purchase was funded in large part by a generous grant from the Yale Law School’s Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund.

The news media’s attention has gone to the high spots. The Abbreviamentum statutorum (ca. 1481), possibly the first printed book of English law, was the subject of a video essay, “The Sound of One Book Clapping,” by Mark Weiner on his Worlds of Law blog. The boke of iustyces of peas (1506) was the first printed J.P. manual; and The lawes resolutions of womens rights (1632) was the first English book on women’s rights.

Equal in significance, however, are the substantial additions in a number of fields. These include 52 titles relating to law reform, including the titles shown below; 27 titles on commercial law; and 18 titles on English bankruptcy. Our William Blackstone Collection, already the most comprehensive in the world, was strengthened with another 24 titles by and about Blackstone. In addition, we acquired 22 titles by William Sheppard, one of the most prolific legal authors of the 17th century, and 27 by Giles Jacob, the most prolific legal author of the 18th century. There were twelve titles by William Lambarde and seven by Michael Dalton. Eleven of the titles are by or relating to Granville Sharp, the founder of the British abolition movement. Mark Weiner looked at one of the Granville Sharp items in a video essay, “Sharp’s Numbers,” on his Worlds of Law blog.

In future posts we will look at these acquisitions in more detail. An exhibit and public program is also being planned. Stay tuned …


Rare Book Librarian


Taussig Collection - law reform

Clockwise from top left: The proctor and parator their mourning (1641); Decisiones provinciales cum notis variorum et Fusty-whyggii (1820?); Edward Whitaker, The second part of Ignoramus justices (1682); Some further advice to the gentlemen members of the late instituted Society of Attornies (1753).

Photographs by Harold Shapiro.



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