Rare Books Blog

Magna Charta, cum statutis, tum antiquis, tum recentibus, maxim opere, animo tenendis nunc demum ad vnum / tipis aedita, per Richardum Tottell (London, 1576)
October 27, 2013

Magna Charta (1576), with arms of Henry Yelverton.

Magna Carta (1215) stands as one of the great legal documents of the western world.  Famously, the English King John was forced to accept certain liberties of his subjects and restrain his powers within the law.  Although at first renounced, amended versions of it were confirmed and reconfirmed by later kings.  This edition, printed by Richard Tottel, was for practising lawyers and judges, and included English statutes in law French and English.

The Law Library’s copy displays the arms of Henry Yelverton (1664-1704), 15th Baron Grey de Ruthyn and Viscount de Longueville.  Yelverton’s arms feature a coronet, indicating his status as a viscount.  A second stamp perhaps belongs to Sir Christopher Yelverton (1602-1654), Yelverton’s grandfather.

– Ryan Greenwood, Rare Book Fellow

“Armorial Bindings,” an exhibit curated by Ryan Greenwood, is on display from September 23 to December 18, 2013, and is located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii [= Complete collection of the laws of the Russian empire]. St. Petersburg, 1839-1873.
October 23, 2013

Heraldic devices were – and still are – sources of pride for individuals and families.  Arms traditionally denote rank within a nobility, indicate prestigious associations and suggest aspects of personal and familial identity.  In medieval Europe, arms became customary for nobles who constituted a distinct military caste, and evolved by the Renaissance into signs of privilege and self-branding.

The creation and elaborate description, or blazoning, of arms was not restricted to families of European lay nobility, but extended to churchmen, cities and other corporate entities (one example is the beautiful Russian imperial arms at left).  

Armorial bindings, often showing the heraldic device stamped in gilt on the upper cover of a book, are also visually striking collectors’ items.  The volumes on display in this exhibit, all from the Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, range from the arms of an Italian Cardinal, to those of The Hague, to the monograms of British nobility.  The decorative bindings can be found on elaborate presentation copies which are unique artistic productions, or may grace a series with identical and more quotidian stamps. 

Thirteen of the armorial bindings in the Rare Book Collection, and five in the case, have been identified in the British Armorial Bindings database, created by John Morris and continued and edited by Philip Oldfield.  The project is hosted by the University of Toronto libraries, under the sponsorship of The Bibliographical Society of London.  The database is an outstanding resource for further research, and I have also used it in preparing the exhibit.

– RYAN GREENWOOD, Rare Book Fellow

“Armorial Bindings,” an exhibit curated by Ryan Greenwood, is on display from September 23 to December 18, 2013, and is located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

John Fortescue, The Works of Sir John Fortescue, Knight (London, 1869)
October 23, 2013

John Fortescue, The Works of Sir John Fortescue, Knight (1869), with the arms of Evelyn Philip Shirley.

Fortescue (c. 1394-1480) was a leading jurist and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.  He is most notable as the author of the De laudibus legum Angliae (“In Praise of the Laws of England”), a treatise which offers a strong defense of medieval English law and government.  

The Law Library’s copy belonged to Evelyn Philip Shirley (1812-1882), a magistrate, antiquarian and book collector.  Fortescue’s legacy was promoted by his descendant Thomas Fortescue (1815-1887), who printed this edition of Fortescue’s works, and gave this presentation copy to Shirley with the latter’s arms.  The arms feature a “Saracen head” wreathed atop an esquire’s helmet, and two pelicans.  The words around the badge read “I am loyal,” in French.

– Ryan Greenwood, Rare Book Fellow

“Armorial Bindings,” an exhibit curated by Ryan Greenwood, is on display from September 23 to December 18, 2013, and is located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

John Selden, Table-talk : being the discourses of John Selden Esq., or his sence of various matters of weight and high consequence relating especially to religion and state (London, 1689)
October 23, 2013

John Selden, Table-talk (1689), with arms of John Poulett.

Selden (1584-1664), was one of the great English jurists, a polymath and prolific scholar.  He treated subjects ranging from English law, to archeology, and was the outstanding English Hebraist of his age.  He served in the House of Commons, and was imprisoned for a time in the Tower of London.  In an ironic and maybe triumphant twist, Selden was later made keeper of the rolls and records of the Tower.  While Selden is remembered most today among legal scholars for his work on international law, Table-talk was a more popular and accessible work.  It offers short observations on legal topics, and theological issues like free will, as well as opinions on subjects like friendship.  

The English aristocrat John Poulett (1663-1743) served in government as First Lord of the Treasury and later was elected a Knight of the Garter.  His monogram shows the initials J P beneath the coronet of a baron. 

  

“Armorial Bindings,” an exhibit curated by Ryan Greenwood, is on display from September 23 to December 18, 2013, and is located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Lectures on law delivered in Litchfield / by Josias H. Coggeshall (1809-10).
October 22, 2013

The study of early American legal education takes a step forward with the launch of the Litchfield Law School Sources website, as part of the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Document Collection Center.

The Law Library is proud to provide an online home to the project, funded by the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, that “brings together text, images, interpretive material and bibliography about Litchfield Law School and the law notebooks kept by its students.”

The Litchfield Law School Sources site includes a catalog of all 270 surviving notebooks from 90 Litchfield students, now housed at 36 different libraries, and links to those notebooks that have already been digitized. The site also provides an overview of the law school’s curriculum, links to biographical information on the faculty and students, and other research tools. The website is still very much a work in progress, so expect to see additions and improvements.

Our Rare Book Collection is proud to have the largest single collection of Litchfield notebooks: 75 volumes by 21 students. One of these is shown at left: the 6-volume Lectures on law delivered in Litchfield (1809-1810), belonging to Josiah H. Coggeshall. Plans are underway to digitize them and make them available via the Litchfield Law School Sources site.

Thanks to the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation for sponsoring this project, to Whitney Bagnall who has prepared the site’s content, and to my colleagues Jason Eiseman and Jordan Jefferson for bringing the website online.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Clarence Darrow's inscription to Pearl Ball
October 16, 2013

Clarence Darrow’s inscribed copy (to “Pearle” M. Ball) of his first book, A Persian Pearl (1899).

At John King Books in Detroit, I discovered an autographed copy of Clarence Darrow’s rare first book: A Persian Pearl (1899). Although the spine is crumbling, the title page like the rest of the book is beautifully typeset.

The inscription is fascinating. It is addressed to “Pearle M. Ball, with the compliments of C.S. Darrow.” When the book was published, Pearl (the correct spelling) Ball was a 22-year-old unmarried woman. According to a Illinois Supreme Court opinion, she died just two years later “suddenly in Chicago at her father’s house, where she lived, on the evening of August 28, 1901.” Ball v. Evening Am. Pub. Co., 237 Ill. 592, 602 (1908).

“Deep mystery shrouds the facts of pretty girl’s death,” a newspaper reported. On the night of her death, Miss Ball was accompanied to a local wine room by a tall man of unknown identity. There a scuffle ensued and she cried for help, claiming that the man had insulted her honor. The bartender ejected her companion and sent her home in a taxi. Shortly after reaching home, Miss Ball collapsed and died in her father’s front foyer, the victim of poisoning. The police never found her unknown companion.

When a Chicago newspaper ran a story the following day about the strange circumstances of the young woman’s death, it printed a picture of another young Chicagoan named Rose Ball—who was very much alive and very much offended. She sued for libel, and the lawsuit went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Darrow’s partner, Edgar Lee Masters, represented the newspaper in the libel suit. This copy of Darrow’s 1899 book is the only known connection between Darrow and Pearl Ball. Biographers have never before connected them.

          – 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.

John C. Townes inscription to Ira P. Hildebrand
October 16, 2013

John C. Townes’s inscribed copy (to Ira P. Hildebrand) of his book Law Books and How to Use Them (1909).

John C. Townes, for whom the main building at the University of Texas School of Law is named, was the first dean of the law school (1902–1903, 1907–1923), where he served on the faculty from 1896 to 1923. Townes wrote five books, ranging from torts to jurisprudence to Texas pleading. This small book on legal bibliography and research he inscribed to Ira P. Hildebrand (1876–1944), a native Texan who received his law degree from Harvard in 1902. Hildebrand would become the third dean at Texas, from 1924 to 1940.

In 1942, Hildebrand would dedicate his four-volume treatise in part to the memory of John C. Townes—in addition to other such notable legal scholars as James Barr Ames, John Chipman Gray, and James Bradley Thayer, who were Harvard faculty members at the turn of the century and doubtless taught Hildebrand there.

          – 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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