Rare Books Blog

September 10, 2010

From the exhibit, “Superheroes in Court! Lawyers, Law and Comic Books”, curated by Mark S. Zaid, Esq., and on display Sept. 4-Dec, 16, 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Comic books have been around in modern form now for nearly 80 years and throughout their existence the influence of lawyers, laws and courts has been significant in the development and continuation of the industry. While oftentimes operating behind the scenes, whether as characters in comic book stories or in reality helping craft decisions that lead to the rise or fall of publishing companies, lawyers have repeatedly been recognized as part of this community, as seen in these varied examples of court-room covers published during the 1940s – 1970s.

Action Comics no. 263 (Apr. 1960). Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Adventure Comics no. 281 (Feb. 1961). Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Batman no. 163 (May 1964). Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Blackhawk no. 208 (May 1965). Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Detective Comics no. 281 (July 1960). Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Incredible Hulk no. 153 (July 1972). Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

September 8, 2010

 

Lawyers have played both fictional and real-life roles in the 80-year history of the comic book industry. Their story is told in an exhibition, “Superheroes in Court! Lawyers, Law and Comic Books,” now on display in the Yale Law School’s Lillian Goldman Law Library.

The guest curator for the exhibition is Mark S. Zaid, Esq., a Washington, D.C. attorney who specializes in national security law. Much like his comic-book heroes, Zaid has an alter-ego as a comic book collector and dealer. He is also an advisor to the Overstreet Comic Book Price & Grading Guides and a co-founder of the Comic Book Collecting Association.

Almost all of the items on display come from Zaid’s personal collection. The comics covers show Superman on trial for murder, and one of the earliest comic books to feature a lawyer on the cover (“Mr. District Attorney”, 1942). Other items document the legal battle over rights to Superman, efforts to censor comic books in the 1950s, and copyright issues.

The exhibition is on display Sept. 6 to Dec. 16, 2010, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library in the Yale Law School (127 Wall St., New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the public. Highlights of the exhibition will appear in installments here in the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.

In addition, Mark Zaid will give an exhibition talk on Sept. 30 at 1:00pm in the Yale Law School.

Action Comics no. 359 (Feb. 1968).

Personal collection of Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

 

 

July 28, 2010

The “Justicie atque iniusticie” gallery in the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site now contains all of the illustrations from our copies of Guillaume Le Rouillé’s Justicie atque iniusticie. We own the first edition of this intriguing work (Paris: Claude Chevallon, 1520). In addition, we own the 1549 Lyon edition of the 18-volume Tractatus Universi Iuris; volume 1 contains Le Rouillé’s essay with different renderings of the illustrations. “Justicie atque iniusticie” also appears in our 1584 Venice edition of Tractatus Universi Iuris, but without illustrations.

Guillaume Le Rouillé (1494-ca. 1550) was a French jurist, public official, historian, publisher, bookseller, merchant, and poet. “Justicie atque Iniusticie” was his first published work; other editions include Lyon 1529, Lyon 1530, Lyon 1531, and Paris 1534. Other legal works that he published included Le grand coutumier de Normandie (Paris 1539), and Le grand coutumier de Maine (Paris 1535).

Below is the “beast of injustice” from the 1520 edition, gobbling up the innocent. The beast’s twelve legs are labeled to represent those who support or promote injustice, including disobedient youths, iniquitous princes, negligent bishops, immodest women, and undisciplined commoners.

Thanks to Nicholas Makarov, a junior in Yale College, for providing biographical information on Le Rouillé.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

Charles du Moulin, Consilia quatuor (1552)
July 28, 2010

 

Another provenance puzzle solved! I was intrigued by the inscription on the title page of Charles du Moulin’s Consilia quatuor (Paris, 1552), because I had remembered seeing the same inscription on a law dictionary I had purchased when I was at the Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin: Jakob Spiegel’s Lexicon Iuris Civilis (1554).

The colleague who took my place at Tarlton, Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch (Rare Books Librarian and Archivist) was kind enough to decipher the inscription, and provided considerable detail on the book’s early owner.

The inscription reads “Bibliotheca Slakoverdensis Scholarum Piarum”, i.e. the library of the Piarist college in Schlackenwerth, the modern day Ostrov, Czech Republic. The Piarists are a monastic order dedicated to education. The order’s official name is Order of Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum).

In an email to me, Elizabeth explained that the order “was founded by Saint Joseph Calasanz, and recognized by Pope Paul V in 1617. In 1622, Gregory XV approved the Constitutions, and conferred the privileges of the mendicant orders upon the order. In 1666, Anna Magdalena Duchess von Sachsen-Lauenburg founded a Piarist college in what was then Schlackenwerth. The complex was consecrated in 1674. The community disbanded in 1876. Major donations to the library included the collection of Princess Maria Piccolomini. In 1910 the library was sold by the last owner – the municipality of Ostrov - to a Viennese second-hand bookshop. There are still quite a few books from this library for sale. For more information, see Wenzl Sommer, Kurze Geschichte der Stadt Schlackenwerth in Verbindung mit dem Piaristen-collegium: Nebst Anhang: Der grosse Brand am 9. Mai 1866 (Selbstverlag des Verfassers, 1866), available in Google Books.”

Thanks to Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch for solving this puzzle for me. An image of Tarlton’s Lexicon Iuris Civilis, with the inscription “Bibliotheca Slakoverdensis Scholarum Piarum”, can be seen on Tarlton’s website, announcing their current exhibit, “Rare Law Dictionaries at Tarlton Law Library.” If you’re in the Austin area, this exhibit is well worth a visit.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

 

July 21, 2010

You can now take a video tour of the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, thanks to Yale Law School’s Office of Public Affairs.

The 20-minute tour is available as Rare Books Library Tour - Part 1 and Rare Books Library Tour - Part 2, in the Yale Law School’s YouTube channel. You can also view the entire video on Yale Law School’s website.

Kaitlin Thomas, Office of Public Affairs, organized the project and conducted the interview. Dan Griffin of Information Technology Services was the videographer and editor, and provided the voice-over. Thank you Kaitlin and Dan!

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

May 4, 2010

I received dozens of wonderful thank-you letters from the fourth-grade students of Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, who visited on April 22, like the one pictured here from Chandler. I read every single one of them. Judging from the letters, the Supreme Court Bobbleheads were a huge hit, as were the medieval manuscripts in our exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.”

Chandler was one of several students who asked questions in their letters. Good questions from good students deserve good answers.

Chandler asks: “Do the old books need to be in hot or cold temperature?”

Cooler temperatures are better for old books, Chandler. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical reactions that cause the materials in books to deteriorate. Warm temperatures, combined with high humidity, can also cause mold spores to wake up and begin reproducing. It is also important to keep old books at an even temperature, because changes in temperature can cause the books to change their shape. In the Law Library’s Rare Book Room, we keep the temperature at a steady 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of 45%. You can learn more from a leaflet titled Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality: Basic Guidelines for Preservation, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Sydney writes: “I never thought the sun could destroy or ruin all those beautiful books! So, what sort of things do you put in the exhibits while the sun is out in summer?

Sunlight cannot reach our exhibit cases, Sydney. In addition, we have taken several steps to limit the chance of damage from light. The plexiglass on the exhibit cases filters out almost all of the ultraviolet light. We also have sleeves on the flourescent light tubes, to cut down the general level of light. For more information, see Protection from Light Damage, a leaflet from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Ever writes: “I still can’t believe that the Yale students get to touch, hold and read the books. Wouldn’t the books just break into little pieces?”

We have special rules for handling the books, Ever. The books must stay in our reading room, under my supervision. The readers use special foam cradles to support the books, they must use pencil instead of ink to take notes, and they must handle the books with care. However, we want students to use our books. The books come alive when they are used. Our job is not only to collect and protect these treasures, but also to share them with students and teachers.

Finally, to all the Ridge Road students who said they wanted to come visit again: Please do come back!

Best wishes,

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

April 22, 2010

On April 22 the Rare Book Collection hosted 84 4th-grade students from Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, CT. They toured our current exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.” They posed plenty of perceptive questions. It was a delight to have them.

They also got a kick out of our display of Supreme Court Bobbleheads…

Thanks to Ridge Road Elementary’s librarian, Lydia Westerberg, for organizing this visit, to the other Ridge Road Elementary teachers and parents who accompanied the students, and to my library colleagues Cesar Zapata and Kathy Eow for their help.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

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