Rare Books Blog

December 3, 2012

Circulez! texte officiel du Code de la route / illustré de 50 dessins humoristiques de Pecqueriaux; avec une pré-farce de Cami (Paris: Éditions Denoël et Steele, 1930).

This edition of the French traffic code is graced with illustrations of disaster on French highways. The Law Library’s copy is inscribed by the illustrator and editor to the French prime minister, André Tardieu.

“Laughing at Law Codes: A French Tradition,” curated by Mike Widener, is on display through Dec. 20, 2012, in Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

December 3, 2012

Le code pénal / illustrations de Jean Dratz (Bruxelles: Isy Brachot Fils, 1950). Acquired with the Gary and Brian Bookman Literature and Arts Fund.

This 1950 edition of the Belgian Penal Code is illustrated by Jean Dratz (1903-1967), who studied law in the university before turning to a career as an artist. He contributed to humor magazines and comics, but was also known for somber paintings of Belgian landscapes.

“Laughing at Law Codes: A French Tradition,” curated by Mike Widener, is on display through Dec. 20, 2012, in Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

December 3, 2012

La justice à petits pas / Maud Hoestlandt; illustrations de Nicolas Hubesch (Paris: Actes Sud Junior, 2004).

This guide to the French legal system for young readers is part of our Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection. The author, Maud Hoestlandt, is a lawyer in Paris.

“Laughing at Law Codes: A French Tradition,” curated by Mike Widener, is on display through Dec. 20, 2012, in Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

November 29, 2012

Over at the Worlds of Law blog, Mark Weiner has posted another video interview with me, titled “The Beauty of the Code.” Mark asked me to speak about some of the famous codes in our collection, such as the first edition of the French Code Civil (1804) shown below, better known as the Napoleonic Code.

Among other things, I owe Mark Weiner thanks for putting me on the same screen as Marlon Brando. Who knew that his character Stanley Kowalski, from the movie version of Streetcar Named Desire, was an expert on the Napoleonic Code?

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

November 27, 2012

The newest gallery in the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site is “Portraits: legal authors.” At present it contains the portraits of 30 authors, with more being added as opportunity allows. All the portraits come from printed books in the Law Library’s rare book collection

The star of the gallery is the portrait at right, of Paolo Attavanti (1445?-1499),  generally considered to be the very first author portrait to ever appear in a printed book. The woodcut appears in a summary of canon law that Attavanti authored, Breviarium totius juris canonici (Milan: Leonhard Pachel and Ulrich Scinzenzeler, 28 Aug. 1479). As such, it is the granddaddy of the author photos on today’s dust jackets.

Attavanti was a monk of the Servite Order and a well known Florentine theologian. His Lenten sermons, inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, were published by Pachel and Scinzenzeler a few weeks after the Brevarium with the same portrait.

The “Portraits: legal authors” gallery joins three other portrait galleries in the Flickr site: portraits of Hugo Grotius, portraits of Modena jurists published in Dottori Modonesi (Modena, 1665), and portraits of Italian jurists in Illustrium iureconsultorum (Rome, 1566?).

For a guide to finding legal portraits online, you can do no better than “The telling image: searching for portraits of lawyers”, a recent post on the Rechtsgeschiedenis Blog by my friend and colleague Otto Vervaart. In his typically thorough and informative fashion, Vervaart reviews portrait collections on both sides of the Atlantic and gives helpful suggestions on search strategies.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

November 20, 2012

Another cataloging milestone to report... All of the collections that the Lillian Goldman Law Library acquired from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (ABCNY) are now completely cataloged in our online catalog, MORRIS. The Roman-Canon Law Collection was completely cataloged in 2008. This fall, cataloging on the two remaining collections was completed. These collections are:

  • The German Law Collection of the ABCNY (678 titles in 856 volumes). The collection arrived in September 2007. Fourteen of the titles are the only North American copies reported in OCLC, including the oldest: Ludwig Fruck's Teutsch Formular (Strassburg, 1529). Another, Civitatum Hanseaticarum Ordinatio nautica et jus maritimum (Hamburg?, 1660?), the maritime laws of the Hanseatic League, is an apparently unrecorded edition. Well over 500 of the titles were part of the law library of Konrad von Maurer (1823-1902), a leading historian of early Germanic and Nordic law.
  • The Foreign Law Collection of the ABCNY (186 titles in 271 volumes). This collection was acquired in October 2008, as part of a cooperative effort with the Jacob Burns Law Library, George Washington University. The collection's title hints at its eclectic contents. It contains significant holdings of Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish law, additional titles in Roman, canon, and German law, and law books from jurisdictions as diverse as France, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, Ireland, and Bengal. There are some truly rare books here. The OCLC database reports only one other copy of the 1530 edition of the Practica Papiensis printed in Lyon by Fradin (Berlin State Library), and the 1507 Cologne edition of Petrus Ravennas's Compendium juris pontificii (Columbia University). One of my favorites is pictured below, Johannes Buno's Memoriale Institutionum juris (Ratzeburg, 1672), a textbook on Justinian's Institutes that employs a complex system of illustrated memory aids.

    Thanks to the Law Library's outstanding cataloger, Susan Karpuk, for her fine work. Thanks again to the Yale Law School's Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund for funding these acquisitions.

    -- MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian


    October 9, 2012

    We thank the following people for their help in organizing and mounting this exhibit:

    • Shana Jackson

      Lillian Goldman Law Library

    • Liliane McClenning

      Lillian Goldman Law Library

    • Emma Molina Widener

      Adjunct Lecturer, Southern Connecticut State University



    Hémard, Joseph. Joseph Hémard: A Short Autobiography. Paris: H. Babou & J. Kahane; New York: Brentano’s, 1929. “With a critical study by Marcel Valotaire, and a portrait of Hémard by Joseph Hémard.” “Bibliography of books illustrated by Joseph Hémard”: p. 41-[43].

    Joseph Hémard” (Lambiek Comiclopedia).

    Joseph Hémard” (Wikipedia).

    Joseph Hémard. This website, in French, features a detailed timeline of  Hémard’s life, photos of Hémard, a bibliography of 125 books illustrated by  Hémard, and examples of Hémard’s paintings.

    Katz, Farley P. “The Art of Taxation: Joseph Hémard’s Illustrated Tax Code”, Tax Lawyer 60:1 (Fall 2006), 163-172. Also available online.

    Teissier-Ensminger, Anne. La fortune esthétique du Code civil des Français. Paris: Éditions La Mémoire du Droit, 2004.

    Teissier-Ensminger, Anne. “La loi au figuré: trois illustrateurs du Code Pénal français.” In La Justice en images (Frédéric Chauvaud & Solange Vernois, eds. Paris: CREDHESS, 2004), 277-291.



    Vibrant Visions: Pochoir Prints in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library

    The Art of the Pochoir Book (University of Cincinnati, Archives and Rare Books Library)


    “ ‘And then I drew for books’: The Comic Art of Joseph Hémard,” curated by Farley P. Katz and Mike Widener, is on display Sept. 15 - Dec. 15, 2012, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.



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