Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2017 Issue

Law's Picture Books – Two Exhibitions and Some Online Videos

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Two Exhibitions of Law's Picture Books.

"Most people would not look for illustrations in law books." So begins the description of two exhibitions curated by the Yale Law Library in one of the greater understatements you will hear. The exhibitions are designed to disprove the underlying assumptions behind that quote. There is one exhibition in New York, another in New Haven, and for those not close to either, there are some accompanying videos that can be viewed online.

 

Most people expect books about the law to be boring texts filled with legalese and certainly many are. A connection between artistic expression, the feelings and emotions they elicit, with the cold, brutal logic of the law seems a contradiction. However, Michael Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Yale Law School Library, has put together a collection of law books that feature illustrations. Many are feats of artistic expression, while others are more technical in nature, some even comic. There are over a thousand items in the collection, compiled over the past decade, some of which are displayed in the exhibitions. The New York City exhibit, Law's Picture Books, "features 140 books and manuscripts containing a surprising and beguiling range of images that symbolize, describe, teach, argue, or criticize the law." The companion exhibition in New Haven, Around the World With Law's Picture Books, "showcases illustrated law books from fifteen countries on six continents in ten different languages."

 

Some illustrations can be soaring art. Frontispiece images were often depictions of Lady Justice, her balancing scales, or even more dramatic allegorical pictures of heavenly creatures bringing truth and justice for all. Deeper into the text, images were more likely to illustrate a particular facet of the law. Others feature cartoon characters, often used to satirize the law. After all, everyone knows what the law is.

 

The exhibition of Law's Picture Books is being hosted at the Grolier Club in New York and runs from now through November 18. Hours are 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday. There is no charge. The Grolier is located at 47 East 60th Street. The exhibition is curated by Michael Widener and Mark S. Weiner, filmmaker and professor on leave from Rutgers University.

 

Around the World with Law's Picture Books is on exhibit at the Yale Law Library in New Haven through December 15. It is curated by Michael Widener and Emma Molina Widener.

 

Five videos by Mark Weiner are shown on a big screen at the New York City exhibition. However, if you can't make it to New York, you can view them at home through the following link: worldsoflaw.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/laws-picture-books-on-video-with-open-captions-for-the-deaf/

 

Those involved in the book trade, either as booksellers or collectors, even those without a particular interest in the law, will find this particular video of much interest. It is Mr. Widener's trip to the annual ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair. It's a chance to see the fair and the interactions between an institutional buyer and numerous of the dealers from around the world with which he meets. vimeo.com/195856227

 

There is also a book available entitled Law's Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection, by Michael Widener and Mark S. Weiner. It is filled with information about illustrations in law books, and, of course, it is highly illustrated itself, with 166 color illustrations. For more information, see the review elsewhere in this month's issue of Rare Book Monthly.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000

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