Rare Books Blog

April 30, 2008

One focus of my collecting efforts is law books with illustrations. These illustrations are often portraits of the authors or allegorical images, but I am especially interested in illustrations used to describe legal concepts.

Tree diagrams have been used since the Middle Ages, particularly in legal texts from the European continent on Roman, canon, or feudal law. They were most commonly used to diagram family relationships: trees of consanguinity dealt with relationships by blood, while trees of affinity described relationships by marriage.

In 16th-century law books, trees were often used to describe other legal concepts and relationships. The “arbor dividui et individui” at right is one example. It comes from Arbor dividui et individui by Martin Sanchez (1538), bound at the end of Luca da Penne’s commentary on the Code of Justinian. The “arbor dividui et individui” diagrams different types of legal actions regarding stipulations and contracts having to do with divisible and indivisible things (thanks to my colleague Jennifer Nelson, reference librarian at the Robbins Collection, UC-Berkeley, for deciphering the meaning).

See my gallery of legal “trees” on Flickr for other examples.

The Arbor dividui et individui by Martin Sanchez is quite rare. The first edition (Toulouse, 1519) is held by the Robbins Collection, the Bavarian State Library, and France’s Bibliotheque Nationale. The only other copy of our 1538 edition is at the Baden-Württemberg State Library. Our copy is part of the Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.


Rare Book Librarian

April 26, 2008

A hearty thanks to Stephen Ferguson, Curator of Rare Books at the Princeton University Library, for providing the answer to my Provenance puzzle #1. The stamp is a portrait of Augustus, Elector of Saxony (1526-1586). Stephen used Google Books to find a reference to the stamp in Konrad Haebler’s Rollen- und plattenstempel des XVI. jahrhunderts (Leipzig: O. Harrassowitz, 1928-1929), vol. 2, pp. 79-81.

See the Wikipedia article on Augustus of Saxony, where you will learn that Augustus, a Lutheran, played an important and influential role as a peacemaker in the religious conflicts of the early German Reformation.

The stamp is on the front cover of our copy of Practica eximia atque omnium aliarum praestantissima by Giovanni Pietro Ferrari (Frankfurt: Sigmund Feyerabend, 1581), part of the Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

Additional images of the covers are in my Flickr gallery in the “Provenance markings” set.

Finally, check out Stephen Ferguson’s excellent blog, Rare Book Collections @ Princeton, a favorite of mine.


Rare Book Librarian


April 21, 2008

The Law and Politics Book Review, one of my favorite electronic journals, has just put out a special issue on Legal Fiction, with reviews of 22 American, British, and European novels from the 19th to 21st centuries. The goal of the editors was "to find out how others who teach courses in political science, criminal justice, or law use novels in their teaching." The standard law-and-literature canon is well represented -- Dickens' Bleak House, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Kafka's The Trial -- but there were a few surprises as well, including two science fiction titles (Isaac Asimov's I, Robot and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.Highly recommended for librarians and collectors interested in the law-and-literature or law-and-popular-culture fields.

Rare Book Librarian

April 17, 2008

There are several articles of interest to legal historians and legal bibliographers in the latest issue of The Green Bag (N.S. vol. 11, no. 2, Winter 2008). These include Michael Hoeflich's "Law Blanks & Form Books", part of Hoeflich's ongoing interest in legal ephemera (see also his blog, TheLegalAntiquarian. In addition, there's a reprint of an extremely useful 1961 bibliographic essay, "History of the Printed Archetype of the Constitution of the United States of America" by Denys P. Myers. This article is preceeded by "Which is the Constitution?" by Ross E. Davies, discussing the issue of determining the authoritative text of the Constitution, an issue which has come up in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case on gun control, District of Columbia v. Heller.

On a different front, Fabio Arcila, Jr. demonstrates the usefulness of early American justice of the peace manuals in his new article, "In the Trenches: Searches and the Misunderstood Common-Law History of Suspicion and Probable Cause," University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 10:1 (Dec. 2007), 1-63. Librarians and rare law book enthusiasts will want to check the bibliography of American j.p. manuals that Arcila includes as an appendix.

Rare Book Librarian

April 16, 2008

A hearty thanks to my Anglophile friend, Mr. Harold I. Boucher of San Francisco (LL.B. Boalt, 1930, Honorary O.B.E.), for his gift of two fine 17th-century English legal texts to the Rare Book Collection. Mr. Boucher is a longtime advocate for legal history as an integral component of law school curricula.

The gifts include Essex’s Innocency and Honour Vindicated: Or, Murther, Subornation, Perjury, and Oppression, Justly Charg’d on the Murtherers of That Noble Lord and True Patriot, Arthur (Late) Earl of Essex by Lawrence Braddon (London: Printed for the Author, 1690).The Earl of Essex had been imprisoned for plotting a revolt, and the attorney Lawrence Braddon here argues that Essex’s death was a murder and not a suicide as the authorities claimed. Braddon’s little pamphlet earned him a trial on slander charges (we also have the account of his trial), and he remained in prison until William III’s landing. Our copy includes the frontispiece, often missing, of the crime scene in the Tower of London (see below).

Mr. Boucher’s other gift is John Brydall’s Jura Coronae: His Majesties Royal Rights and Prerogatives Asserted, Against Papal Usurpations, and all other Anti-Monarchical Attempts and Practices (London: Printed for George Dawes … against Lincolns-Inn-Gate, 1680). Brydall was a conservative, monarchist barrister who published a number of legal tracts. This particular book was printed just a few steps from Wildy & Sons, Law Booksellers, where I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Boucher in person in 2002, through the good offices of Roy Heywood, Wildy’s rare book specialist.

Thanks also to Meyer Boswell Books of San Francisco for its help in arranging this special gift.


Rare Book Librarian

April 9, 2008

Armorial stamp, ABCNY L962 1538 flat

This armorial stamp graces the front and back covers of several tall folios from the Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.I have no idea what library this stamp is from, but I have a couple of clues. The binding style (stamped pigskin over boards, with rounded backs) is typically German. Several knowledgeable folks say that the initials also suggest a German library.If you can shed any light or provide any suggestions, please let me know.On my Flickr gallery, in the “Provenance Markings” set, I have posted an image that shows more of the cover and the tooling. Following are the titles bearing this stamp (click on the title to see the full record in our online catalog, MORRIS):

Luca da Penne, Lectura … Super tribus libris codicis (Lyon, 1538) [with] Martin Sanchez, Arbor dividui et  individui (s.l., 1538). (The volume shown here).

Alessandro Tartagni, In Digestum vetus lecturae [with] Lecturae in Digestum novum (Lyon, 1567).

Alessandro Tartagni, In codicem Iustinianeum commentariorum tomus primus et secundus [with] In infortiatum commentaria (Lyon,1567).

Primum volumen[-volumen xvii] tractatuum ex variis iuris interpretibus collectorum (Lyon, 1549; 18 vols. in 11).


Rare Book Librarian

Lillian Goldman Law Library

April 8, 2008

This rubbing is from the front cover of one of the volumes from the Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. I would be grateful if someone could help me identify this portrait and/or the coat of arms on the back cover (see below), to learn who was the book’s original owner.


The book itself is Practica eximia atque omnium aliarum praestantissima by Giovanni Pietro Ferrari (Frankfurt: Sigmund Feyerabend, 1581). The book is bound in stamped pigskin over pasteboard, and appears to be a German binding. Additional images of the covers are in my Flickr gallery in the “Provenance” set.

Although the online resources available at the Provenance Information page provided by the Consortium of European Research Libraries didn’t answer my question, I highly recommend them for others with questions like mine.

 Thanks to Brian Mendez for the rubbings and Joanne Kittredge for the scans.


Rare Book Librarian

Lillian Goldman Law Library


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