C-85a. Law Books: History & Connoisseurship (22 hours) - Advance Reading List

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  • Preliminary Reading List

    Please read the items listed under “Essential,” and as many of the remaining readings as your time and/or interests dictate. Items marked with asterisks (***) are particularly recommended. It is NOT expected that you read every work in this list. Note that all Law Library Journal articles are available free of charge at https://www.aallnet.org/llj_issue/. If you have difficulty locating some of the readings, email Mike Widener at <perrym.widener@gmail.com> and he might be able to help.

  • Essential

    Baker, John. “Legal Literature,” in Introduction to English Legal History, 175–94. 4th ed. London: Butterworths LexisNexis, 2002.

    Carter, John. ABC for Book Collectors. 9th ed. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016. The latest edition (9th), edited by Nicolas Barker & Simran Thadani, has been completely revised and now includes color illustrations. It can be purchased from Oak Knoll Books. However, the earlier editions are fine. The 8th edition can be downloaded as a PDF file, for free, courtesy of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. A copy of the physical book is highly recommended, in part because the endpapers and paste-downs are essential parts of this indispensable reference work.

    Charpentier, Arthur, Mary L. Fisher, Richard Sloane, and Erwin C. Surrency. “Bicentennial History of American Law Publishing.” Law Library Journal 69, no. 4 (November 1976): 576–93. See specifically the first section by Edwin Surrency, pages 576–86. https://www.aallnet.org/llj_article/bicentennial-history-of-american-law-publishing/

    Pennington, Kenneth. “Roman and Secular Law in the Middle Ages.” http://legalhistorysources.com/Law508/histlaw.htm

    Feel free to skip over all the passages of Latin text.

    Widener, Michael. “Morris Cohen and the Art of Book Collecting.” Law Library Journal 104, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 39–43. http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylss/18/

  • Book collecting

    Adam Weinberger Rare Book Buyer (YouTube), https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLzOmHTvVTv7Ejlz_sY2Z7g/videos. Weinberger has produced a few dozen entertaining and informative videos on the rare book trade and rare books in general. See especially “Ten Rare Book Words That Will Change Your Life,” https://youtu.be/PlTyCMG8CUQ.

    Belanger, Terry. “Descriptive Bibliography.” In Book Collecting: A Modern Guide, edited by Jean Peters, 97–115. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1977.

    Cohen, Morris L. “Administration of Rare Materials.” In Law Librarianship: A Handbook, edited by Patrick E. Kehoe and Heinz Peter Mueller, vol. 2, 603–88.  Littleton, CO: F. B. Rothman, 1983.

    Hoeflich, M. H. “Legal History and the History of the Book: Variations on a Theme.” University of Kansas Law Review 46 (1998): 415–31. Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/1808/919

    *** Reese, William. “Books in Hard Times.” A talk given at the Grolier Club symposium with the same title, 22 September 2009.  Available at: https://www.williamreesecompany.com/pages/articles/1/books-in-hard-times

    *** Traister, Daniel. “Are There New Paths for Book Collectors?” Talk delivered to the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, Philadelphia, 10 May 1998. Available at: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~traister/newpaths.html

    Trimble, Marsha. “Archives and Manuscripts: New Collecting Areas for Law Libraries.” Law Library Journal 83, no. 3 (Summer 1991): 429–50. Available at: https://www.aallnet.org/llj_article/archives-and-manuscripts-new-collecting-areas-for-law-libraries/

    Widener, Michael, ed. Public Services Issues with Rare and Archival Law Materials. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Information Press, 2001. Also published as volume 20 (2001) of Legal Reference Services Quarterly. See especially the articles by Gordon, Warrington, Cohen, Silver, & Diamond.

    Wroth, Lawrence. “The Bibliographical Way.” Available online in Rick Ring’s Notes for Bibliophiles blog, at http://pplspcoll.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/the-bibliographical-way/. This essay originated as an address at a joint meeting of the Bibliographical Society of America and the American Historical Association, 30 December 1936, and was later published in The Colophon (Spring 1938) and reprinted in About Books: A Gathering of Essays (1941).

  • Anglo-American law

    *** Baker, John. “The Books of the Common Law.” In The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume III, 1400-1557, 411–32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

    *** Baker, John. “English Law Books and Legal Publishing.” In The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume IV, 1557-1696, 474–503. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

    *** Friedman, Lawrence M. A History of American Law, 2nd ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985. Read pages 90–104, 322–33, and 621–32.

    Parrish, Jenni. “Law Books and Legal Publishing in America, 1760-1840.” Law Library Journal 72, no. 3 (Summer 1979): 355–365; scan rest of article. https://www.aallnet.org/llj_article/law-books-and-legal-publishing-in-america-1760-1840/

  • Roman, canon & civil law

    *** Apple, James G., and Robert P. Deyling. “A Primer on the Civil-Law System.” Washington, D.C.: Federal Judicial Center, n.d. Available online at: https://www.fjc.gov/content/primer-civil-law-system-0

    *** Hoeflich, Michael H. “Bibliographical Perspectives on Roman and Civil Law.” Law Library Journal 89, no.1 (Winter 1997): 41–54. Available online at: https://www.aallnet.org/llj_article/bibliographical-perspectives-on-roman-and-civil-law/

    *** Pennington, Kenneth. “A Short History of Canon Law from Apostolic Times to 1917.” http://legalhistorysources.com/Canon%20Law/PenningtonShortHistoryCanonLaw.pdf

    *** Pennington, Kenneth. “Western Legal Collections in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.” In Religious Minorities in Christian, Jewish and Muslim Law (5th-15th Centuries), edited by Nora Berend, Youna Hameau-Masset, Capucine Nemo-Pekelman, and John Tolan, 77–98. Turnhout, BE: Brepols, 2017. https://www.academia.edu/34434964/PenningtonWesternLegalCollections.pdf

    Sass, Stephen L. “Medieval Roman Law: A Guide to the Sources and Literature.” Law Library Journal 58, no. 2 (May 1965): 130–59. Available online at: https://www.aallnet.org/llj_article/medieval-roman-law-a-guide-to-the-sources-and-literature/

    Stein, Peter. “Justinian’s Compilation: Classical Legacy and Legal Source.” Tulane European & Civil Law Forum 8 (1993): 1–15.


  • Online exhibits

    Book exhibitions are themselves “mini-collections,” books with a common feature or theme brought together by the curator to tell a story. Take a look at these examples.

    250 Years of Blackstone’s Commentaries (Yale Law Library). https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/britlaw/3/

    Dying Speeches & Bloody Murders: Crime Broadsides Collected by the Harvard Law School Library. http://broadsides.law.harvard.edu/

    Digital Exhibits (Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room). Links to a number of exhibits; see especially “Collectors on Collecting.”  https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/schools/law/sites/current-students/library/special-collections/rare-book-room.html

    The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library. https://library.law.yale.edu/tags/early-italian-statutes-exhibit

    Freedom of the Seas, 1609: Grotius and the Emergence of International Law (Yale Law Library). https://library.law.yale.edu/tags/freedom-seas-1609-exhibit

    Landmarks of Law Reporting (Yale Law Library). https://library.law.yale.edu/tags/landmarks-law-reporting-exhibit

    The Law Dictionary Collection (Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin). http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/law-dictionaries

    Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education (Yale Law Library) https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/eurolaw/3/

    Murder and Women in 19th-Century America (Yale Law Library) https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/amtrials/12/

    Precedents So Scrawl’d and Blurr’d: Readers’ Marks in Law Books (Yale Law Library) https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/marks-in-lawbooks

    Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective (University of Minnesota Law Library). http://moses.law.umn.edu/transitional-justice/

    Trial by Media: The Queen Caroline Affair (Yale Law Library & Lewis Walpole Library) https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/trialbymedia

  • Assignments from ABC for Book Collectors

    The contents of the ABC should be thoroughly mastered, for it is impossible to talk intelligently about rare books without an understanding of what is a very specialized terminology. A good way to approach this task is to study the preliminaries (everything before page 12) and the definitions of the terms printed in boldface in the list below. Then learn the definitions of the remaining terms on this page. Finally, read this irresistible book straight through.

    The course will assume familiarity with the terms listed here.

    Leaf Endpapers Disbound
    Recto Paste-down Facsimiles and fakes
    Verso Preliminary leaves Fly-sheet
    Format Fly-leaf Foxed
    Sheet Half-title Half bound
    Gatherings Frontispiece Imprint
    Signatures Title Incunable
    Collation Bibliography Inscribed copy
    Blank leaves Edition and impression Law calf
    Forme Issues and states McKerrow
    Folio First edition Original state/condition
    Quarto Presentation copy
    Octavo Association copy Provenance
    Duodecimo Auctions Publisher’s cloth
    Cover Bindings Rarity
    Spine Boards Re-backed
    Hinges Book-plate Shoulder-note
    Joints Booksellers’ catalogues Side-notes
    Edges Broadside Trade binding
    Margins Calf Variant
    Uncut Catchword Vellum
    Unopened Condition Wrappers