C-85. Law Books: History & Connoisseurship - Advance Reading List

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  • Preliminary advices

    Please read as many of the 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 Law Library Journal articles from 2011 onward are available free of charge at https://www.aallnet.org/llj_issue/; earlier articles are available in HeinOnline. Items that aren’t online will be available in a Google Drive folder a few weeks before class begins.

  • Book history and bibliography

    ***Carter, John. ABC for Book Collectors. Unfortunately, the latest edition (9th ed.; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016; edited by Nicolas Barker & Simran Thadani) is currently out of print. However, the 8th edition can be downloaded as a PDF file, courtesy of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and second-hand copies of various editions are usually available on Abebooks.com. 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.

    “Extravagantly Large Paper.” From the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Collation blog, a post by Caroline Duroselle-Melish on large-paper copies of Littleton’s Tenures. https://collation.folger.edu/2015/11/extravagantly-large-paper/

    *** Hoeflich, M. H. “Legal History and the History of the Book: Variations on a Theme.” University of Kansas Law Review 46 (1998), 415-431. http://hdl.handle.net/1808/919

    “My True Meaning: emotions in seventeenth-century wills.” Also from the Folger’s Collation blog, a post by Elizabeth DeBold. https://collation.folger.edu/2022/07/emotions-in-seventeenth-century-wills/

    Osler, Douglas J. “Dies diem docet.” Ius Commune 18 (1991), 207-224.

    Solon Cristobal, Kasia. “From Law in Blackletter to Blackletter Law.” Law Library Journal 108:2 (2016), 181-216. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2821866

    ***Widener, Michael. “From Law Book to Legal Book: The Origin of a Species.” Rechtsgeschichte – Legal History (Rg) 29 (2021), 431-444. https://openyls.law.yale.edu/handle/20.500.13051/17925

  • Anglo-American law

    ***Baker, John H. “Legal Literature” in his Introduction to English Legal History (5th ed.; Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2019), 185-205. Earlier editions are OK.

    ***Baker, John H. “The Books of the Common Law” in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume III, 1400-1557 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 411-432 and “English Law Books and Legal Publishing” in The Cambridge History of the Book, Volume IV, 1557-1696 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 474-503.

    Friedman, Lawrence M. A History of American Law, 2nd edition (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985), pp. 90-104, 322-333, 621-632.

    ***Parrish, Jenni. “Law Books and Legal Publishing in America, 1760-1840.” Law Library Journal 72:3 (Summer 1979), 355-365; scan rest of article. http://repository.uchastings.edu/faculty_scholarship/615

    ***Prest, Wilfrid. “Law Books.” In The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume V, 1695-1830 (Michael Suarez & Michael Turner, eds.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 791-806.

    Ross, Richard J. “The Commoning of the Common Law: The Renaissance Debate over Printing English Law, 1520–1640.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 146:2 (1998), 323–461. https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/penn_law_review/vol146/iss2/1/

    Seipp, David J. “The Law’s Many Bodies, and the Manuscript Tradition in English Legal History.” Journal of Legal History 25:1 (April 2004), 74-83.

    ***Simpson, A. W. B. “The Rise and Fall of the Legal Treatise: Legal Principles and the Forms of Legal Literature.” University of Chicago Law Review 48:3 (Summer 1981), 632-679. https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol48/iss3/4/

  • Roman, canon & civil law

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

    ***Hoeflich, Michael H. “Bibliographical Perspectives on Roman and Civil Law,” Law Library Journal 89:1 (Winter 1997): 41-54.

    ***Pennington, Kenneth. “Roman and Secular Law in the Middle Ages.” [Feel free to skip over the passages of Latin text.] http://legalhistorysources.com/Law508/histlaw.htm

    ***Pennington, Kenneth. “A Short History of Canon Law from Apostolic Times to 1917.” See especially from page 14 onward. http://legalhistorysources.com/Canon%20Law/PenningtonShortHistoryCanonLaw.pdf

    Reich, Peter L. “Siete Partidas in My Saddlebags: The Transmission of Hispanic Law from Antebellum Louisiana to Texas and California.” Tulane European & Civil Law Forum 22 (2007), 79-88. https://journals.tulane.edu/teclf/article/view/1779

    Rueda Ramírez, Pedro. “Law Books in the Hispanic Atlantic World: Spaces, Agents and the Consumption of Texts in the Early Modern Period.” Rechtsgeschichte – Legal History (Rg) 29 (2021), 100-113. http://rg.rg.mpg.de/en/article_id/1396

    Stein, Peter. “Justinian’s Compilation: Classical Legacy and Legal Source.” Tulane European & Civil Law Forum 8 (1993), 1-15. https://journals.tulane.edu/teclf/article/view/1434

    ***Wallinga, Tammo. “The Common History of European Legal Scholarship. ” Erasmus Law Review 4:1 (2011): 3-20. https://doi.org/10.5553/ELR221026712011004001002

    Watson, Alan. “The Importance of ‘Nutshells’.” American Journal of Comparative Law 42:1 (Winter 1994), 1-23. https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/668/

  • 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.

    ***Reese, William. “Books in Hard Times.” A talk given at the Grolier Club symposium with the same title, 22 Sept. 2009. 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. https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~traister/newpaths.html

    ***Widener, Michael. “Morris Cohen and the Art of Book Collecting.” Law Library Journal 104:1 (Winter 2012), 39-43. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.13051/17690

    Wroth, Lawrence. “The Bibliographical Way.” Available online 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 Dec. 1936, and was later published in The Colophon (Spring 1938) and reprinted in About Books: A Gathering of Essays (1941).


  • 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). http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.13051/52

    Civil, Canon and Common: Aspects of Legal History (Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas). http://hdl.handle.net/1808/11766

    Digital Exhibits (Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room). Links to a number of exhibits; see especially “Collectors on Collecting.” https://lira.bc.edu/collection/a4e9cbfb-c533-4f96-afba-6683f475c47f

    Free Tom Mooney! An Exhibition of the Yale Law Library’s Tom Mooney Collection. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.13051/82

    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) http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.13051/107

    Murder and Women in 19th-Century America (Yale Law Library) http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.13051/80

    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 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.

    Blank leaves
    Preliminary leaves
    Edition and impression
    Issues and states
    First edition

    Association copy
    Booksellers’ catalogues
    Facsimiles and fakes
    Half bound
    Inscribed copy
    Law calf
    Original state/condition
    Presentation copy
    Publisher’s cloth
    Trade binding