Law and Legal History from The Lawbook Exchange
By Michael Stillman
The Lawbook Exchange has issued its Catalogue 51 of Law and Legal History -- Recent Acquisitions. The catalogue combines a small group of recent scholarly publications with a much larger number of antiquarian books. This time, there are quite a few which date back to the 16th century, as well as others which republished ancient Roman law from over a millennium earlier. These are books for those with a serious interest in the law, whether as academic or collector. However, there are a few items that may appeal to those of not quite so scholarly a bent. Here are some of the titles offered this month.
Item 21 is a second issue of the first treatise on English law, De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae (on the Laws and Customs of England). The author was Henry de Bracton (or Henrici de Bracton), and his great work was not printed during his lifetime, as de Bracton died in 1268, almost two centuries before the invention of the printing press. He was an English jurist, and his work displays the influence of older Roman law, but with its own English character. It is generally regarded as the finest English legal work of the Middle Ages. The book was first published in 1569, with this copy being the follow-up second printing of 1640. Priced at $1,500.
It's hard to comprehend how humanity could find itself less civilized 700 years later, but here is photographic proof: Justice at Nuernberg: A Pictorial Record of the Trial of the Nazi War Criminals by the International Tribunal at Nuernberg, Germany, 1945-46. Here is a chance to stare into the eyes of evil. In a forward, U.S. Chief of Counsel Robert Jackson writes, "...this collection will convey an impression of the setting for the trial that would hardly be obtainable from the printed word alone." The text is by Anne Keeshan, photographs by Charles W. Alexander. Item 64. $150.
Item 24 is The Great Rights, edited by Edmond Cahn and published in 1963. This book contains essays on the Bill of Rights by four Supreme Court justices, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Associate Justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black and William Brennan. This copy is signed by all four and is inscribed, "To: O. Roy Chalk." Oscar Roy Chalk (the New York Times said he detested the name "Oscar") was a flamboyant entrepreneur and financier, at one time owning the Washington transit system, New York's Spanish-language newspapers, an airline, a railroad in Central America, and a banana plantation. He once gave his wife an emerald of almost 38 carats, which they later donated to the Smithsonian. He was also a supporter of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which perhaps explains his receiving a book signed by four justices who believed the U.S. Constitution also supported civil rights. $1,250.