Rare Books Blog

 Cuba y sus jueces, by Raimundo Cabrera (1895)
November 15, 2016

A number of our recent acquisitions are in the field of Cuban law. Here are some of the highlights.

Raimundo Cabrera (1852-1923), Cuba y sus jueces: rectificaciones oportunas (8. ed.; Filadelfia: Cía. Lévytype, 1895).
Cabrera was a jurist, writer, journalist, and a leader in the fight for Cuban independence. His book is an extended argument for Cuban home rule. This edition was probably published in Philadelphia because the armed struggle for Cuban independence was in full swing by 1895. An English translation, Cuba and the Cubans, was issued the following year by the same publisher.

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1867-1928), ¿Toros? (Habana: Compañía Editora de Libros y Folletos, 1940).
The text is a short story by Blasco Ibáñez, a prominent Spanish writer. There is an epigraph, “¿Permitiremos en nuestra Cuba un espectáculo tan cruel y anticubano?”, which in English is “In our Cuba, will we permit such a cruel and anti-Cuban spectacle?” The front cover is inscribed “Sr. Segundo Curtis / Ministro de Gobernación / Habana Oct. 1951”. Only two other U.S. libraries report owning copies.

13 leyes de gobierno revolucionario (Ministerio de Estado República de Cuba, 1960?). DALA Suplemento; no. 1.
This publication of the Departamento de Asuntos Latinoamericanos, aimed at a Latin American audience, gives special prominence to the agrarian reform laws. Only two other U.S. libraries report owning copies. The introduction states: “Economic underdevelopment has been the fundamental cause of the problems of social injustice, political instability, administrative corruption, and cultural backwardness that we Cubans have suffered, and the legal dispositions recently enacted have been aimed at eliminating this condition of inferiority, the cause of our ills, by transforming the semi-feudal economic structure we inherited from the colony.” [MW translation]

Mario Díaz Irizar, Comentarios a las leyes de marcas y patentes (Habana: Imprenta V. Alvarez Hno. y comp., 1917).
This treatise on Cuban trademark and patent law features dozens of stunning full-color illustrations of Cuban trademarks, including 22 leaves of plates. Only four other U.S. libraries have copies.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Illustration from Mario Díaz Irizar, Comentarios a las leyes de marcas y patentes (1917).

Parte presa nell'eccellentiss. Senato, 1620, adì 9 aprile, in materia che si possi condennar alla Galea anco per manco tempo de disdotto mesi (Venice, 1620)
September 21, 2016

Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic:
Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice

The Venetian Republic, a prosperous and powerful state in Renaissance Europe, cultivated an image of stability and liberty. This image-making is on display in a new Yale Law Library exhibition, “Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic: Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice.”

The exhibition draws on the outstanding collection of Italian law books in the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, along with drawings and medals from the Yale University Art Gallery and reproductions from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The exhibition is on display through December 15, 2016. It was curated by Christopher Platts (History of Art, Yale University) and Michael Widener (Rare Book Librarian, Yale Law Library).

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Venice played a central role in the political and economic affairs of Europe, ruling an empire that extended through northern Italy, the Adriatic, and the eastern Mediterranean. By the year 1500, Venice could claim that it had been a sovereign republic for more than a millennium. Venice was so highly esteemed for its stable government, selfless leaders, and free citizens that it came to be known as “La Serenissima,” the Most Serene Republic.

The exhibition introduces the most significant offices and symbols of the Venetian Republic, and explains how laws were crafted, debated, publicized, and frequently broken. The protagonists are the doge and highest magistrates of Venice, the governors appointed to rule the Republic’s territories, the lawmakers in the Senate, and the lawbreakers, illustrated in finely executed drawings, prints, and numismatic portraits.

“Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic” is on view daily through December 15, 2016 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT). Excerpts will also appear here in the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Actus potestatis supra civitatem Veronae Foederico Rhenerio ab Andrea Griti duce Venetiarum data (1530).

Veridica descrizione, e ragguaglio distinto della Promulgazione delle colpe, e dell'abjura solenne, e della condanna di galera fulminata dal Santo Tribunale dell'Inquisizione di Brescia, contro Giuseppe Beccarelli (1710)
July 28, 2016

One of my favorite acquisitions at this spring’s New York Antiquarian Book Fair was an Italian broadside with an enormous woodcut of an Inquisition trial. The trial took place in Brescia in 1710. The defendant was a priest, Giuseppe Beccarelli, accused of promoting the heretical doctrine of Quietism, as well as sodomy. At the end of the trial he renounced a long list of principles, and spent the last six years of his life in prison. Ours may be the only surviving copy; no other copies are listed in WorldCat or other union catalogs.

Britannica Online describes Quietism as “A doctrine of Christian spirituality that, in general, holds that perfection consists in passivity (quiet) of the soul, in the suppression of human effort so that divine action may have full play.” The main proponent of Quietism was a Spanish priest active in Rome, Miguel de Molinos, whose teachings were condemned in 1687.

An alphabetic key beneath the woodcut identifies all the main participants, including the presiding officer, Cardinal Gianalberto Badoaro, the accused (“Il Beccarello”), the inquisitors, clergy, local officials, nobles, and finally, at the extreme edges, the general public (“Popolo”).

A detailed description of Beccarelli’s trial can be found in The Inquisitor in the Hat Shop: Inquisition, Forbidden Books, and Unbelief in Early Modern Venice by Federico Barbierato (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012).

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Veridica descrizione, e ragguaglio distinto della Promulgazione delle colpe, e dell’abjura solenne, e della condanna di galera fulminata dal Santo Tribunale dell’Inquisizione di Brescia, contro Giuseppe Beccarelli da Vrago d’Olio, li 13. settembre 1710 (Brescia: Gio. Maria Rizzardi, 1710); 52 x 37 cm.

May 10, 2016

Putting Together a Book Exhibit,” a video teaser for our 2017 exhibition in New York City, has won the Best Video prize in the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) “Day in the Life” contest. The annual competition recognizes photos and videos that capture the spirit of law librarianship.

The video was produced by my colleague and exhibition co-curator Mark Weiner (Yale Law School Class of 2000). It shows us preparing a section of our exhibition, “Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection.” The exhibition is scheduled to run September 17-November 18, 2017, at the Grolier Club in New York City. The exhibition will include over 150 volumes from our collection of illustrated law books.

Putting Together a Book Exhibit” is only the latest in a series of videos on law books that Mark has produced which feature books from our Rare Book Collection. You can see the rest at Mark’s Worlds of Law website. They include “Blackstone Goes Hollywood,” “On Looking into Coke’s Reports,” “The Sound of One Book Clapping,” “The Beauty of the Code,” “A Philosophical Approach to Judicial Bobbleheads,” and my personal favorite, “Water, Paper, Law.”

Thanks to all my AALL colleagues who voted for our entry, and a special thanks to Mark Weiner, whose artistry and skills were the winning combination. Mark is planning a much bigger video production for the exhibit itself.

You can see all the “Day in the Life” winners on the AALL website, and view the video below.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian




Tom Mooney fundraising stamps
March 19, 2016

In conjunction with its ongoing exhibition, “Free Tom Mooney! The Yale Law Library’s Tom Mooney Collection,” the Law Library is sponsoring a talk by exhibition co-curator Lorne Bair, owner of Lorne Bair Rare Books.

Bair will deliver his talk, “A Martyr to the Cause: The Mooney Trial, the Communist Party, and the Pleasures of Propaganda,” at noon on Thursday, March 24, in Room 129 of the Sterling Law Building, Yale University. The public is invited, and a light lunch will be served.

The exhibition is co-curated by Lorne Bair, Hélène Golay (also of Lorne Bair Rare Books), and Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Yale Law Library. A hundred years ago, San Francisco authorities framed the radical labor organizer Tom Mooney for murder following a bombing. Drawing on the Law Library’s extensive collection, the exhibition tells the story of Mooney’s 22-year campaign for exoneration that made him an international celebrity.

The exhibition is on display through May 27 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library. A catalogue of the exhibit is available online.

Lorne Bair has been an antiquarian bookseller for the past two decades. His firm, Lorne Bair Rare Books, is based in Winchester, Virginia, and specializes in radical history and the literature of American social movements. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America and is co-director of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, where he has been on the faculty since 2010.

For more information, contact Mike Widener at (203) 432-4494, email <mike.widener@yale.edu>.


Sir William Blackstone
March 15, 2016

After an eight-month voyage to England and Australia, the Law Library’s exhibition, “250 Years of Blackstone’s Commentaries,” is on its way home. Its last stop was at the Sir John Salmond Law Library, University of Adelaide, academic home of my co-curator Professor Wilfrid Prest.

The photo below shows Professor Prest, in the plaid shirt at far right, conducting a tour of the exhibition on February 25 for members of Friends of the Barr Smith Library. This is one of several tours he conducted. The exhibition was also a featured attraction at the 34th Annual Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Law and History Society.

The exhibition had its debut here at the Lillian Goldman Law Library in the spring of 2015. It then travelled to the Middle Temple in London (Blackstone’s Inn of Court), September-November 2015. The exhibition was a marvelous opportunity to show off our world-class William Blackstone Collection, and to mark the 250th anniversary of the most influential book in the history of Anglo-American law.

I want to thank Wilfrid Prest for the opportunity to collaborate with him. A very special thanks goes to my colleagues Renae Satterley at the Middle Temple Library and Peter Jacobs at the Sir John Salmond Law Library, University of Adelaide, for making the “Blackstone World Tour” possible.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

February 8, 2016

Modern academic dissertations are typically rather dull visually, consisting almost entirely of typescript. In early modern Europe, however, dissertations could be quite ornate. The Rare Book Collection recently acquired one of these, a 1692 dissertation from the University of Innsbruck with a lovely portrait of the young emperor Joseph I of the Holy Roman Empire (1678-1711), shown below. The presence of the portrait suggests that the emperor or his representative may have attended the formal defense of the dissertation. The portrait is framed by allegorical figures: on the left, Religion is trampling down Heresy, while on the right Justice beheads a Turk. The artist, Bartholomäus Kilian, came from a family of German engravers.

The dissertation, Manipulus decimarum, sive, Quaestiones X. canonicae et plures controversiae de decimis (Innsbruck: Benedict Carol Reisacher, 1692), is by Kaspar Ignaz von Künigl (1671-1747), later a notable bishop of Brixen, a city in the Italian Alps to the south of Innsbruck. The dissertation is a methodical legal analysis of controversies surrounding tithes.

Thanks to Leo Cadogan Rare Books, whose detailed and learned description provided most of the details given here.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Portrait of Emperor Joseph I, Holy Roman Empire

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