Yale Law Library - Rare Books Blog
Browse by Tags
» Legal bibliography
Capturing dealer descriptions in our online catalog
One of my most pleasurable duties as a rare book librarian is reading the catalogues sent by rare book dealers. Each book's listing is typcally accompanied by a narrative description that describes the book's context and significance. The best book descriptions do more than merely tout a book or manuscript to potential buyers. They are nuggets of bibliographical and historical scholarship, and models of lively, concise writing. Much of my early training consisted of reading rare book dealer catalogues, and I still learn from them.
Thanks to the Law Library's online catalog, MORRIS, and to the cooperation of book dealers, I have been attaching dealers' descriptions to our catalog records for the books.
When you look at the record of an individual title in MORRIS, you will see a button on the left side of the screen, labeled "Add a review". Those with a Yale ID and password can add a review of the title. If a review has been added, you will see a headline under the "Add a review" button that is a link to the review. Click the headline link and the review pops up in a window. (Note that the display works better in Firefox than in Internet Explorer.)
Since January 2008, I have been adding rare book dealers' descriptions as "reviews" in MORRIS. For example, look at the record for Iustinianae constitutiones civiles (Bologna, 1608). Click the link, "The judicial system in Bologna,1608" and you will see the following description:
"Attractive and rare set of decrees concerning the functioning of the judiciary in the papal city of Bologna. These city statutes were promulgated by the Pope's legate, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani (1554-1621). Despite the issuing authority, the constitutions (a word indicating legislation of the highest level) are entirely non-religious in content, relating to civil law justice in the city. They shed considerable light into how courts worked in Bologna. Included are instructions on cases involving poor people; rules for notaries; the keeping of registers; seizures of property; taking of suspects; payment of officers; expert witnesses; and the governing of appeals. Pages 192-198 comprise papal edicts on the salaries of Bolognese judges and notaries." -- Leo Cadogan Rare Books (Dec. 2011)
The description adds value to our catalog. It records a wealth of information about the book that would be impossible to include in the online catalog record.
I follow these guidelines:
- I must first obtain the dealer's permission to use the descriptions for all books and manuscripts the dealer sells to me. The descriptions are the dealer's intellectual property and dealers are sensitive (rightly so) about whether and how their descriptions are re-used. I assure the dealer that I will understand if he or she prefers to refuse permission.
- I enter a dealer's descriptions only for the books and manuscripts I buy from that dealer.
- I copy the description verbatim, editing only for length, punctuation, and spelling.
- I enclose the description in quotations, and I attribute the description to the dealer, including the catalogue (or if not in a catalogue, by the date it was quoted to me).
- I never include the price.
To date I have added over 500 descriptions by over forty dealers from across the U.S. and Europe. I hope you find them as useful and educational as I do.
Rare Book Librarian
A Tribute to Morris L. Cohen (1927-2010)
The latest issue of Law Library Journal is a special issue, "A Tribute to Morris L. Cohen (1927-2010)." Our own Fred Shapiro organized this fitting tribute to our mentor and friend. All of the articles can be downloaded from the LLJ website. -- MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian
Law Library Journal
Volume 104, no. 1 (Winter 2012): A Tribute to Morris L. Cohen (1927-2010).
"Introduction." Fred R. Shapiro.
"Morris L. Cohen, 1927-2010: A Remembrance and Celebration." Vincent DiMarco, Kent C. Olson, Balfour Halévy, Lika Miyake, Mary Jane Kelsey, Sharon Hamby O'Connor, & Robert C. Berring.
"In Praise of Morris L. Cohen's Bibliography of Early American Law." Daniel A. Cohen.
"Morris L. Cohen: A Reminiscence." Morris S. Arnold.
"Memories of Morris--and How I Use His BEAL." Jordan D. Luttrell.
"Morris Cohen and Rare Book School." David Warrington.
"Morris Cohen and the Art of Book Collecting." Michael Widener.
"Cornerstones for Enduring Law Libraries: Morris Cohen's Influence at Yale." S. Blair Kauffman.
"Birth of a Nutshell: Morris Cohen in the 1960s." Kent C. Olson.
"The End of Scholarly Bibliography: Reconceptualizing Law Librarianship." Robert C. Berring.
"Appeals to the Privy Council Before American Independence: An Annotated Digital Catalogue." Sharon Hamby O'Connor & Mary Sarah Bilder.
"Blackstone and Bibliography: In Memoriam Morris Cohen." Wilfrid Prest.
"Booksellers in Court: Approaches to the Legal History of Copyright in England Before 1842." James Raven.
"Practicing Reference . . . 'That Most Congenial Lawyer/Bibliographer'." Mary Whisner.
"Reflections: An Interview with Morris L. Cohen." Morris L. Cohen & Bonnie Collier.
"Morris L. Cohen: A Bibliography of His Works." Ryan Harrington & Camilla Tubbs.
New book on a Yale Law Library manuscript: "A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes"
The Law Library is always delighted when research on materials in our collection is published. An entire monograph on a single one of our manuscripts is a rare privilege and honor.
Such an honor has been bestowed on us by Rosemarie McGerr. Her latest book, A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School New Statutes of England (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011), is an in-depth study of one our most important medieval manuscripts, the Nova Statuta Angliae (ca. 1450s-1470s). In the course of her study, McGerr rejects the previous description of the manuscript as a wedding gift from King Henry VI of England to his consort Margaret of Anjou. Instead, she argues that it was commissioned by Queen Margaret for their son, Edward the Prince of Wales. As described by the publisher:
This seminal study addresses one of the most beautifully decorated 15th-century copies of the New Statutes of England, uncovering how the manuscript’s unique interweaving of legal, religious, and literary discourses frames the reader’s perception of the work. Taking internal and external evidence into account, Rosemarie McGerr suggests that the manuscript was made for Prince Edward of Lancaster, transforming a legal reference work into a book of instruction in kingship, as well as a means of celebrating the Lancastrians’ rightful claim to the English throne during the Wars of the Roses. A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes also explores the role played by the manuscript as a commentary on royal justice and grace for its later owners and offers modern readers a fascinating example of the long-lasting influence of medieval manuscripts on subsequent readers.
Rosemarie McGerr is Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Medieval Studies Institute at Indiana University.
More information on the book is available from the Indiana University Press website.
Rare Book Librarian
The origins of star paging
Anyone who uses modern American case reports, either print or online, is familiar with "star paging": "A method of referring to a page in an earlier edition of a book, esp. a legal source. This method correlates the pagination of the later edition with that of the earlier edition" (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd Pocket Ed. 2006).
My friend and colleague Fred Shapiro has discovered that the first use of the term "star paging" appears to be in 1850, in the front matter to the 4th edition of Joseph R. Swan's Treatise on the Law Relating to the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace and Constables, in the State of Ohio (Columbus: I.N. Whiting, 1850). A form of star paging, with the original page numbers in [square brackets] became common after 1770: Burrow's Reports (2nd ed. 1771), Jenkins' Exchequer Reports (3d ed. 1777), and the 12th ed. of Blackstone's Commentaries (London, 1793-95) are all early examples. The 1680 edition of Coke's Reports claims to use a similar system, but there are large gaps in the bracketed page numbers in the margins and one is not sure what to make of it.
However, by far the earliest example of star paging I can find is in a 1596 edition of Year Book cases from the reign of Edward III: Anni decem priores, Regis Edwardi Tertii... (London: Jane Yetsweirt, 1596). Here is an example: the number "20" in the margin between rules is the original page number, and to the left of the number is the " * " sign in the text.
I discovered it thanks to a reference in Ian Williams, "'He Creditted More the Printed Booke': Common Lawyers'
Receptivity to Print, c.1550-1640," 28 Law & History Review
39 (2010), at 57. Yetsweirt used star paging again the following year in
another collection of Year Book cases, but the use of star paging seems
to have fizzled out until the later 18th century.
If anyone has evidence of earlier use of star paging, I'd love to hear about it.
Rare Book Librarian
Internet resources for collecting law books
I prepared the following set of links for the class I'm teaching at the Rare Book School next week, "Law Books: History and Connoisseurship." Colleagues and readers of this blog might find some of them useful or interesting. If you want to know where I spend my time online, here are a few hints...
Online library catalogues
- WorldCat: Public-access version of the largest union catalogue of library holdings world-wide.
- KVK - Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog: Meta catalog of over 50 national library catalogs, regional library catalogs, and union catalogs.
- ESTC - English Short Title Catalogue (British Library): 460,000 items published between 1473 and 1800 mainly, but not exclusively, in English, published
mainly in the British Isles and North America, from the collections of the British Library and over 2,000 other libraries.
- Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (British Library): "The international database of 15th-century European printing created by the British Library with contributions from institutions worldwide."
- Virgo: Online catalog for the University of Virginia Library.
- MORRIS: Online catalog for the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.
- Yale University Library
Resources on Book Terminology
Internet Databases for Rare & Used Books
- AddALL: Searches 24 online databases of used and rare books in North America and Europe (including ILAB and ABE), with the option of restricting searches to selected databases.
- ViaLibri: Designed especially for rare & collectible books. It allows you to permanently filter out print-on-demand books from your search results (yay!). Another great feature is the ability to search 72 library catalogs, including WorldCat (public version), KVK, ISTC, ESTC, and dozens of other union catalogs, national library catalogs, and individual library catalogs.
Searches almost 100 listing services (like ABE), online bookstores, and
even "rental services" (!) for new, used, and rare books.
- International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB): Restricted to listings from member booksellers. Offers an automated "wants" notification to registered users (registration is free), a searchable directory of member booksellers, multilingual glossaries of bookseller terms, Carter's ABC for Book Collectors in PDF format, a calendar of book fairs, and a large "Library" of articles on the book trade, collecting, and related topics. ILAB's U.S. affiliate, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) offers most of the same features, but is limited to U.S. dealers.
- AbeBooks.com: Registered users can create automated "wants" lists, and are notified by e-mail of matching books.
Book Collecting Resources
Legal History Resources
Lewis Morris Collection joins Libraries of Early America
Our Lewis Morris Collection is now part of the Libraries of Early America project on LibraryThing.com. As described by Jeremy Dibbell of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the coordinator of the Libraries of Early America Project, "Using the book-cataloging website LibraryThing.com, scholars from institutions around the country (including Monticello, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Public Library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society and others) have begun the process of creating digital catalogs of early American book collections - the project covers anyone who lived in America and collected primarily before 1825."
LibraryThing provides powerful tools for analyzing Morris's library. The tag cloud, drawn from the subject headings in our catalog records, shows the subject strengths within the Morris Collection. You can also see how Morris's library compares with other libraries, both early and modern. In addition, there is a biographical sketch and portrait of Morris.
Lewis Morris III (1726-1798), a 1746 graduate of Yale, was a prominent New York lawyer and statesman and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. His law library, consisting of 113 titles in 104 volumes, was donated to the Yale Law Library in 1960 by three of Lewis Morris' descendents: A. Newbold Morris (Yale Law School Class of 1928), Stephanus Van Cortlandt Morris, and George L. Kingsland Morris. Over half the books in the collection are also inscribed by Morris' grandfather, Lewis Morris I (1671-1746), who was chief justice of New York (1715-1733) and governor of New Jersey (1738-1746).
Libraries of Early America will soon add another of our collections, the John Worthington Collection. Worthington (1719-1800) was a wealthy and influential lawyer practicing in 18th-century Springfield, Mass., who served for many years as king's attorney of western Massachusetts and high sheriff of Hampshire County.
Thanks to Jeremy Dibbell and his Libraries of Early America collaborators!
Rare Book Librarian
Early Italian Statutes: Links
The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library
One of the main reasons for organizing this exhibit is to encourage students and scholars to use the Yale Law Library's outstanding collection of early Italian statutes. All of the volumes in the collection are represented in our online catalog, MORRIS. Feel free to contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian; see the Rare Books homepage for contact information.
Below is a selective list of online resources, bibliographies, and publications on early Italian statutes.
- The Biblioteca del Senato della Repubblica "Giovanni Spadolini" (the library of the Italian Senate) houses the world's most extensive collection of early Italian statutes. The introduction to the site is also provided in French and English. See especially the description of the catalogues, which contain a wealth of information on Italian legal history and local history, The entire Catalogo della raccolta di statuti (8 volumes so far) is available online, as well as updates to the earlier volumes.
- Kenneth Pennington, professor of ecclesiastical and legal history at Catholic University, provides an concise overview of Italian legal history from the Middle Ages to the present, including a critical guide to the literature. See also his Roman and Secular Law in the Middle Ages.
- De Statutis is the website of the Comitato Italiano per gli Studi e le Edizioni delle Fonti Normative (CISEFN). The site is in Italian. See the Bibliografia Statutaria Italiana for an extensive bibliography of scholarship, mainly in Italian, on early Italian statutes, divided into a general section and sections on regions.
- Statuti della Liguria is a project of the Società Ligure di Storia Patria, with support from the Faculty of Jurisprudence, University of Genoa, to catalog and digitize statutes from the Liguria region, 12th-18th centuries. The site is in Italian and includes an extensive bibliography and a searchable database.
- Biblioteca del Senato della Repubblica (Italy). Catalogo della raccolta di statuti, consuetudini, leggi, decreti, ordini e privilegi del comuni, delle associazioni e degli enti locali italiani, dal medioevo alla fine del secolo XVIII (Roma: Tipografia del Senato, 1943- ). Eight of the nine volumes have been published so far, and when it is complete it will be the most comprehensive bibliography of early Italian statutes. The entire set is available online at the website of the Biblioteca del Senato, along with updates to the earlier volumes. The Yale Law Library has a copy, which is currently shelved in the Rare Book Librarian's office.
- Leone Fontana, Bibliografia degli statuti dei comuni dell' Italia superiore (3 vols.; Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1907). The Yale Law Library has a copy.
- Luigi Manzoni, comp., Bibliografia statutaria e storica italiana (2 vols. in 3; Bologna: G. Romagnoli, 1876-1892). Volume 1 covers statutes; volume 2 (which our library lacks) covers local histories. The Yale Law Library's copy is currently shelved in the Rare Book Librarian's office.
- Statuti italiani: riuniti ed indicati dal conte Antonio Cavagna Sangiuliani (2 vols.; Pavia: Prem. Tipografia successori fratelli Fusi, 1907). This entire collection is now in the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and it is probably the only early Italian statute collection in the U.S. that rivals the Yale Law Library's collection. The catalogue is available online, but stops with entries for the letter M.
Books and articles
- Mario Ascheri, "Beyond the Comune: The Italian City-State and Its Inheritance," in The Medieval World (Peter Linehan & Janet L. Nelson eds.; London: Routledge, 2001), 451-468. "[T]he sections of statutes relating to public law have every right to be treated as constitutional history, even if their wide dispersion, mutability and multiplicity make them difficult to study. Paradoxically, it is their very richness that is responsible for the comparative neglect they have suffered. ... The city-states were the precursors of the majoritarian principle. In order to delimit the activities of different governmental agencies they introduced systems of checks and balances. They pioneered measures designed to depoliticise judges and the administration of justice and to moderate the excesses of their officials."
- George Bowyer, A Dissertation on the Statutes of the Cities of Italy (London: Richards and Co., 1838). Although 170 years old, it is so far the only full-length book in English on early Italian municipal statutes. The Yale Law Library has a copy in its collection, and it is also online in Google Books.
- Carlo Calisse, A History of Italian Law (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1928). Translated by Layton B. Register, with introductions by Frederick Parker Walton and Hessel E. Yntema. Volume 8 in the Continental Legal History Series. The book is a translation of parts of Calisse's Storia del diritto italiano, and was described in a contemporary review as "a long and complicated book." The Yale Law Library has a copy.
- Kenneth Pennington, "Law Codes: 1000-1500," in Dictionary of the Middle Ages 7 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986), 425-431.
Rare Book Librarian
Illustration: Perugia (Italy), Statuta augustae Perusiae (Perugia, 1523-1528).
John Cowell's blind alley
John Cowell's The Interpeter, or Booke Containing the Signification of Words was the most respected English law dictionary of the 17th century, despite the controversy that greeted its appearance in 1607. It went through eight editions between 1607 and 1727, testimony to its popularity and usefulness.
However, the early editions have an interesting quirk. The entry for "Testament (testamentum)" directs the reader to "See Will", but when you turn to the W's, there is no entry for "Will"! Cowell has sent his readers down a blind alley, or what librarians and indexers call a "blind reference."
This is a particularly surprising error given the author. John Cowell (1554-1611) was a doctor of civil law, or a "civilian" in the nomenclature of English law, in contrast to the practitioners of the English common law who practiced in the common law courts. Civilians practiced in the ecclesiastical courts of England, and thus wills and estates were part of the bread-and-butter of their practice. For a civilian like Cowell to completely omit any coverage of testaments and wills is odd, to say the least.
Even odder is that for decades no one bothered to fix the error. The 1637 and 1658 editions of The Interpeter were basically reprints of the 1607 edition. Finally, in 1672, Thomas Manley of the Middle Temple published an enlarged edition with a half-column definition for "Testament" and a brief paragraph for "Will."
Thanks to my friend Mr. Harold I. Boucher of San Francisco for calling to my attention the case of Cowell's missing "will." Mr. Boucher, a retired attorney, has himself published both on Cowell (King James's Suppression of The Interpreter and Denouncement of Dr. Cowell, 1998) and on the history of wills (California Living Trusts and Wills: What You Must Know Before You Make a Will, 1994; How to Live and Die with California Probate, 1970).
The image of the title page from the 1607 edition of The Interpreter comes from the John Cowell page in the Law Dictionary Collection website provided by Rare Books & Special Collections, Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin. It appears here with their permission and with my thanks to Elizabeth Haluska-Rauch, Head of Special Collections.
Rare Book Librarian
The most creative books in American law
Robert F. Blomquist surveyed 426 law professors who have taught legal history for his paper, Thinking About Law and Creativity: On the 100 Most Creative Moments in American Law (Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-04, May 2008). Below I've extracted the books and articles that appear in Blomquist's top 100. I provide links for those books that are in the Yale Law Library's online catalog, MORRIS. Legislation and court cases make up the majority of the list, and I did not include these, although arguably The Federalist (1788) is a component of the #1 creative moment, "The Constitution of the United States (1787) and the ratification debates (1787-1788)."
You can find a brief critique of Blomquist's paper on Mary Dudziak's Legal History Blog.
Most Creative Books in American Law...
15. James Kent, Commentaries on American Law (1826-30).
16. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833).
17. Christopher Columbus Langdell’s initiation of the case method of study at Harvard Law School initiated by his casebook, A Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts (1871).
18. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Common Law (1881).
27. Benjamin Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921).
43. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962).
44. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949).
46. Charles Reich, The Greening of America (1970).
54. Richard Posner, Economic Analysis of Law (1973).
55. Hart & Sacks, The Legal Process (1958).
68. Al Gore, Earth in the Balance (1992) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006).
79. The Politics of Law (1982).
Most Creative Law Review Articles in American Law...
45. Justice Douglas’ dissent in Sierra Club v. Morton (1972) (citing Christopher D. Stone, Should Trees Have Standing?--Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects, 45 Southern California Law Review 450 (1972).
75. Samuel D. Warren & Louis D. Brandeis, Right to Privacy, 4 Harvard Law Review 193 (1890).
Rare Book Librarian
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