Law Dictionaries from The Lawbook Exchange
Law Dictionaries from the Lawbook Exchange.
With that happy thought, The Lawbook Exchange begins its catalogue of Law Dictionaries. This is not a compendium of light reading. There are no Shakespeares in this field. Your children will not want you to read these passages to them at bedtime. Nonetheless, these books are critical to our ability to live together in civilized societies. If we are a nation laws, not men, then these are the books which define who we are. Through them, we can trace our histories, values, and evolution. They are exceptionally important, even if they operate in the background of most of our lives.
By Michael Stillman
"It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward. Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries; whom mankind have considered, not as the pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths of Learning and Genius, who press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Every other authour may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach..."
While these books are important to us all, we imagine their greatest appeal will be to those connected to the field of law. That could be collectors, but may also be practitioners as well. Even law books centuries old may still be used by attorneys today to settle some obscure questions outside of the commonplace. Indeed, this catalogue comes in two sections. The first is of antiquarian law dictionaries, while the second offers the Lawbook Exchange's recent reprints of old law dictionaries. Old legal works are reprinted in modern times as they still are of practical use.
A law dictionary is usually a bit more expansive then the term "dictionary" may imply. You may want to think more in terms of encyclopedias than Noah Webster. Most provide far more than simple definitions. They are designed to explain concepts and their applications. They are guide or "how-to" books for those who practice law. Today, they can still assist in the practice, provide information for the historian, or classic books for the collector.
We will now mention a few of the antiquarian books being offered. The titles will probably not be familiar to most, but those intimately involved with the law or legal history will likely recognize them. Many of these books, because of their usefulness, ran to a great many editions. While firsts are likely most desirable to collectors, later editions may be more useful for those who practice law, while the differences between editions can be most informative to historians.
Law Dictionaries from The Lawbook Exchange
Vocabularium Juris by B. Phillippe Vicat.
Item 4 is a first edition of Thomas Blount's Nomo Lexicon: A Law-Dictionary. Published in 1670, it is one of England's earlier law dictionaries, defining words and terms both modern and old. Blount was prohibited from practicing at the Bar because he was a Catholic, so he took to legal scholarship instead. His work was very successful, supplanting earlier works, and being repeatedly republished through the 18th century. Priced at $2,000.
Item 2 is Beeton's Dictionary of Industries and Commerce by Samuel Orchart Beeton. Beeton was a publisher, but if he is recognized at all today, it is as the husband of Mrs. Beeton. Isabella Mary Beeton, better known simply as "Mrs. Beeton," was the author/editor of articles on management of the household, originally published serially in a magazine, later combined into a book. It provided guidance on running a proper household and was filled with recipes. Mrs. Beeton is one of the most recognized authorities ever in such subjects, while her husband is...well...Mr. Beeton. His book is priced at $200.
Item 42 is the scarce first edition of Vocabularium Juris Utriusque by B. Philippe Vicat, published in 1759. Vicat compiled abridged listings from many previous sources and then filled in the gaps himself, to provide a more complete dictionary. He also provided references to the authority. $1,500.
Giles Jacob produced one of the most important of law dictionaries, The Law-Dictionary. It would be reprinted many times through the 18th century, and then again beginning in 1797 after it was updated by Sir Thomas Tomlins. Item 23 is a second edition from 1732. $1,200. Item 24 is a fifth edition from 1744. $850. Item 25 is a sixth edition from 1750. $850. Item 26 is the first Tomlins edition from 1797. $1,000. Item 27 is the second Tomlins from 1809. $900. Item 28 is the first American edition from 1811. $2,500.
The website for the Clark, New Jersey, based Lawbook Exchange may be found at www.lawbookexchange.com. They may be reached 732-382-1800.