Rare Books Blog

Johannes Buno, Memoriale institutionum juris, 1672
November 15, 2018

A selection of works which use various visual devices (charts, illustrations, diagrams…) to present information in interesting ways

 
 
 
 
 

Giovanni d’Andrea. Lecture super arboribus consanguineitatis et affinitatis. Vienna: Hieronymus Vietor and Johann Singriener, 1513.

These diagrams are visual hypotheticals, presenting the student with tough legal issues involving blood relationships. Despite its relatively small size, the wide margins left enough space for a student to attempt a solution of his own.

Giovanni d’Andrea. Super arboribus consanguinitatis et affinitatis. Manuscript, Austria, 15th century.

This 15th century manuscript contains a number of related works, includes these hand-drawn and colored copies of Giovanni D’Andrea’s trees of consanguinity and affinity. Tree diagrams were a popular way to convey information about family relations in a compact, easy-to-understand way. These diagrams illustrate in just two pages what would otherwise take many pages of text to explain. They continued to be used in the era of printing - a print version of the tree on the left was the first image to appear in a printed law book.

 

Ely Warner. “A system of law in, a series of lectures, delivered, ore tenus at Litchfield (Conn.) from June 1808 to September 1809.” Volume 1 of 3.

This is a student’s notebook from a lecture at the first law school in the United States, Litchfield Law school, which opened its doors in 1773. On the left is the end of a chronological chart of different case reporters, allowing the student to quickly and easily locate a case. On the right, the notes begin with a section on municipal law.

 

Johannes Buno. Memoriale institutionum juris. Ratzburg: Nicolaus Nissen, 1672.

This confusing chart is actually designed to make it easier for students to memorize the Institutes of Justinian. It reduces the mass of information presented in the Institutes to a series of allegorical engravings keyed to passages in the text, to aid in memorization. Can you work out the meaning behind any of the images?

Giles Jacob. Tables to the Law. London: Printed by E. and R. Nutt and R. Gossling …, 1736.

This table, part of a series printed by Giles Jacob, outlines the definitions and punishments for a host of common crimes against God, the king, and the public. The large format allows it to present a variety of information in a way that is accessible and easy to display.

 

 
 

–Ryan R. Martins, Rare Book Fellow

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

A full catalogue of the exhibit can be found here.

 
Sir Thomas Littleton. Les tenures de Monsieur Littleton. London: Richard Tottel, 1591.
November 7, 2018

In Sir Thomas Littleton’s (1407-1481) time, materials for the study of law were scarce. Littleton orginally wrote the Tenures in order to help his son in his study of the law. It soon became the standard legal textbook on property law.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Sir Thomas Littleton. Les tenures de Monsieur Littleton. London: Richard Tottel, 1591

This edition of the Tenures is particularly well suited to the student. Its size allows it to be relatively cheap as well as portable, and the extra wide margins allow for copious note taking. This copy has clearly passed through the hands of multiple owners, each of whom had plenty of room for annotations.

 
 

Sir Thomas Littleton. Littleton’s tenures, in French and English. London: Printed by John Streater, James Flesher, and Henry Twyford [et al.], 1671.

This pocket edition presents Littleton in the original Law French side-by-side with the English translation. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Law French became the official language of the English courts for nearly 700 years. Near the end of this period, when Law French had all but ceased to be a spoken language, bilingual volumes like this were especially popular. They allowed the student to study the content of the law while also brushing up on the language skills that were still needed.

 
 

Sir Thomas Littleton. Littleton’s tenures: with notes explanatory of the text of Littleton, and showing the recent alterations in the law. London: R. Hastings, 1846.

This student edition of Littleton’s Tenures was published in 1846 by the editors of The Law Students’ Magazine. In the preface, the editors – obviously aware of the priorities of law students – lauded their edition for removing all the obsolete parts of the text, both so that students wouldn’t get bogged down in unimportant details, but also to make the work as inexpensive as possible.

 
 

Sir Edward Coke. The first part of the Institutes of the lawes of England: or, A commentarie upon Littleton. London: Society of Stationers, 1628.
Gift of William L. Frost, Yale Law Class of 1951.

Littleton’s Tenures was the most important textbook on English property law until the appearance of Coke’s commentary on Littleton, in which Coke “shoveled out his enormous learning in vast disorderly heaps” in the margins around Littleton’s text. Coke on Littleton was the most read legal textbook in America until Blackstone, and possibly the most hated. Of his early legal studies, Justice Joseph Story remembered, “I was hurried at once into the intricate, crabbed, and obsolete learning of Coke on Littleton. … After trying to read day after day with very little success I set myself down and wept bitterly.”

 

–Ryan R. Martins, Rare Book Fellow

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

A full catalogue of the exhibit can be found here: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/amlaw/18/

 

Portrait of William Blackstone, from Commentaries on the Laws of England (London, 1774).
November 7, 2018

William Blackstone. Commentaries on the laws of England. 6th edition. London: W. Strahan, T. Cadell, 1774.
Gift of Robert Freilich, Yale Law School Class of 1957.

Blackstone’s Commentaries is the single most influential work in the history of Anglo-American law. It began as a series of lectures on the common law given at Oxford, and was eventually published in the 1760s to great acclaim. It soon became the essential text for anyone studying the law not only in England, but in Canada and the US as well. It is no coincidence that the Commentaries, which synthesized the vast unwieldy expanse of English common law, is, like the Institutes before it, organized in four books.

William Blackstone. An abridgment of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the laws of England, in a series of letters from a father to his daughter. London: John Hatchard and Son, 1822.
Gift of Macgrane Coxe, Yale Law School Class of 1957.

A once popular format for educational books took the key parts of a primary work and presented them in a series of “letters” or essays, written for a particular audience. This abridgment of the Commentaries takes this form – it is written as a series of letters from a lawyer father to his daughter.

Griffith Ogden Ellis. Blackstone quizzer B: being questions and answers on book 2 of Blackstone’s Commentaries. 3rd edition. Detroit: Collector Publishing Co., 1896.

Blackstone Quizzers functioned as early bar prep packages for students – and for only 50 cents! The author was a professor at the Sprague Correspondence School of Law, the first correspondence law school in the US, which opened in 1890. It allowed for long-distance legal education, and offered opportunities for, like women and minorities, who were barred from most traditional law schools.

Asa Kinne, Asa. The most important parts of Blackstone’s Commentaries, reduced to questions and answers. 2nd edition. New York: W.E. Dean …, 1839.

This set of questions and answers on Blackstone’s Commentaries is marked by a large stain – perhaps some careless student spilled their coffee?

John Gifford. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the laws and constitution of England: abridged for the use of students, and adapted to modern statutes and decisions. London: Sir Richard Phillips and Co. …, 1820.

This abridgment of the Commentaries is explicitly aimed at students. As the Commentaries were over 50 years old by the time of this volume’s publication, it was brought up to date with contemporary statutes and case law.

 

–Ryan R. Martins, Rare Book Fellow

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

A full catalogue of the exhibit can be found here: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/amlaw/18/

Institutiones imperiales. Paris:Jean Petit, 1510.
November 2, 2018
 
Justinian’s Institutes
 
In the year 533 the Emperor Justinian reformed legal education in the Eastern Roman Empire, proscribing a new five-year course of study. The Institutes was published to serve as textbook for first-year law students, a position which it maintained for centuries.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Institutiones [with the Novels and Tres Libri]. Manuscript, southern France, circa 1250.
 
 
In this large 13th century manuscript one can see a number of design features that became commonplace in legal publishing. Color titles, wide margins for notetaking, text in columns in the middle of the page surrounded by commentary, called gloss – itself a product of legal education – are all features that would carry over from the manuscript era into print.
 
 
Institutiones iuris civilis. Venice: Giunta, 1581.
 
 
This print edition of the Institutes is open to the same page – the beginning of Book Four – as the large manuscript copy. Published over 200 years after the manuscript copy, we can see many of the same features. The text is in middle of the page, surrounded by the gloss. The sections are still marked in red, while the hand drawn embellishments in the manuscript edition have been replaced by decorative woodcuts.
 
 
Institutiones imperiales. Paris:Jean Petit, 1510.

This truly pocket-sized copy of the Institutes would have been attractive for the student who needed a textbook that was both inexpensive and easily portable. Its minute size, however, did not stop its owner from making extensive use of the margins for notes. This is the only known copy of this edition.

Johann Friedrich Böckelmann. Compendium Institutionum Caes. Justiniani. Leiden: Felix López de Haro, 1681.

This abbreviated copy of the Institutes appeals directly to students. The illustration shows two paths available to the prospective student: in the path on the right – “either slowly or never” – a student struggles up a steep hill with a cumbersome basket full of books on their back. On the path on the left – “neither slowly, nor with difficulty” – the student proceeds along a series of well-defined steps with only a single book – this book – in hand.

Bartolomé Cartagena. Synopsis juris civilis. Cologne: Wilhelm Metternich, 1719.

This small volume of Roman law presents the most important parts of the Institutes as a series of easy-to-understand questions and answers – a format that proved popular for legal study guides.

Imperatoris Iustiniani Institutionum libri IIII. Passau, 1700.

An engraving of Justice adorns this small copy of the Institutes.

–Ryan R. Martins, Rare Book Fellow

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

A full catalogue of the exhibit can be found here: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/amlaw/18/

Guy Le Pape
October 12, 2018

When looking at a row of law books today, whether in a law library, a courthouse, or a student’s bookshelf, one might be struck by their apparent uniformity – row upon row of nearly identical volumes. This, however, was not always so. Throughout history, legal literature has taken an astounding variety of forms. Law books were more than just repositories of information, like any other tools of a trade, their use influenced their design.

This exhibit highlights the intimate connection between legal literature and legal education. It focuses on the way that the usage of one group in particular – students – helped shape both the content and the form of legal literature over the course of nearly 15 centuries of legal study.

The first case highlights three of the most important textbooks of in the history of legal education, Justinian’s Institutes, Littleton’s Tenures, and Blackstone’s Commentaries, and the various forms in which these essential texts were presented.

The second case looks at books as tools for the student – books whose form was very much a part of their function. While there were many such categories, we have selected four of particular use to law students: visual aids, notebooks, student guides, and legal dictionaries.

–Ryan R. Martins, Rare Book Fellow

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm
 

Frontispiece from "Repertorium aureum" (1495)
October 4, 2018

Through the centuries, legal education has both shaped legal literature and been shaped by it. “Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education,” the latest exhibition from the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, shows how the content and design of early law books were employed by both teachers and students.

The exhibition is curated by Ryan Martins (Law 2020), Rare Book Fellow, and Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian.

Three books dominated legal education in Western civilization for almost fifteen centuries: Justinian’s Institutes, Littleton’s Tenures, and Blackstone’s Commentaries. The exhibition shows how publishers adapted each of these works to meet the evolving needs of law students.

The exhibition also examines four genres of legal literature that served as tools for students: visual aids, notebooks, study guides, and law dictionaries.

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

For more information, contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, phone (203) 432-4494 and email <mike.widener@yale.edu>.
 

The student's law-dictionary (1740)

The student’s law-dictionary, or, Compleat English law-expositor (London, 1740)..

Bookplate of Jared Ingersoll Senior, an early New Haven lawyer
September 12, 2018

The Rare Book Collection recently acquired the first edition of Henry Ballow’s Treatise of Equity (London, 1737) because it is the first edition of a work that was the standard treatise on equity in the century before the publication of Joseph Story’s Commentaries on Equity Jurisprudence (Boston, 1836). In his History of English Law, William Holdsworth writes that Ballow on Equity “can be taken as a good starting point for the history of the development of many of the principles and rules of modern equity.”

What made this particular copy so desirable is its provenance. It bears the armorial bookplate of Jared Ingersoll Sr. (1722-1781), an early lawyer in New Haven. The shield includes the family motto: “Fama sed virtus non moriatur” (Fame, but not virtue, will die). Ingersoll also signed the title page and the signature on the title page “Jared Ingersoll’s Nove.r 1751”.

Jared Ingersoll was born Milford, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale College in 1742. He embarked on a legal career and was appointed King’s Attorney for New Haven County in 1751, around the time he acquired our book. Ingersoll acquired considerable notoriety when he returned from a trip to England in 1765 with an appointment as the Crown’s agent for collecting the hated Stamp Tax. He was reportedly burned in effigy in several towns, and a crowd of 500 intercepted him in Wethersfield, Connecticut, on his way to Hartford to seek refuge with the General Assembly, forcing him to resign his post. His other claim to fame is as the father of Jared Ingersoll, Jr., a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and an unsuccessful candidate for vice president in 1812 on the Federalist ticket.

For more information on Ingersoll, see his Wikipedia entry, which includes a portrait. He is the subject of a full-length biography: Lawrence Henry Gipson, Jared Ingersoll: A Study of American Loyalism in Relation to British Colonial Government (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920).

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

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