Beauty of Book Covers

We are not supposed to judge the books by their covers, but we cannot help admiring their beauty and the skills and quality of the workmanship of the book binders who created them hundreds of years ago. Book covers are an intrinsic part of the readers’ experience that can be used by the book producers or book owners to enhance the appeal or the importance of their contents, to market the book to a specific category of readers, or to produce a desired impression on visitors browsing the contents of a private library. These are some stunning examples from the Law Library’s rare books collections:

Corpus juris civilis (1612) in wooden boards, brown embossed calf leather, with fragments of clasps and metal corner-pieces.

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Collection of 16th century pamphlets bound in vellum manuscript waste

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Volumen parvum (Corpus juris civilis) (1588) in embossed pigskin

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Manuscript Institutions au droit françois (1715) in 18th century marbled paper

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Trois livres du domaine de la Couronne de France (1613) in brown calf with gold ornaments

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Praxis criminalis (1678) in limp vellum

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Liber qvintvs receptarvm sententiarvm integer (1604) in contemporary vellum with embossed ornaments and red leather label on the spine

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Les six livres de la republique de I. Bodin, soft leather covers embossed with fleurs-de-lys, coats of arms of France, Polland, and Henry III

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Controversiarum juris libri tredecim (1678) in contemporary vellum with embossed ornaments

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Enchiridion: ov Brief recveil du droict escript, gardé et observé ov abrogé en France (1606) in brown calf with gold ornaments

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New Book Exhibit: Le droit en images: Faire rire, découvrir et apprendre

correct law and art posterImages and law – the first association between these two words that probably springs into your mind is the copyright law or cultural property law. However, the connection between law and visual art is more complex and manifold: hand-drawn sketches are still used to illustrate trials unraveling in courtrooms; lawyers are one of the most favourite and rather easy targets for the cartoonist around the globe; while legal books, law firms, and law libraries are filled with the stern looking portraits of be-wigged and be-robed judges and barristers…

The upcoming exhibit illustrates yet another facet of the relationship between law and an image: the use of visuals in legal books to illustrate, explain, and discuss law and legal concepts. This tradition dates back to the early days of legal literature, with the lavishly illuminated manuscript of Sachsenspiegel being one of the most known examples. To help you dispel the winter blues and the gloom of your impending mid-terms, the exhibition Le droit en images mostly showcases the books that use the imagery to explain and talk about law in a rather light-hearted and humorous way.

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New acquisition: Vocabvlarivm ivrisprvdentiae romanae (1718)

 vocab 3 3 We are happy to welcome a new addition to our Wainwright Collection: Vocabvlarivm ivrisprvdentiae romanae. It is a wonderful example of an early eighteenth century hand-written legal vademecum. The dictionary is a quick and simple reference guide to the principle terms and concepts of Roman civil law. It is written in fine hand, arranged alphabetically, and has foldable margins to facilitate the marking of places. The book covers all the principle aspects of civil law from inheritances and property rights through to contracts and martial law. It includes also a section on Juris primordia, on the structure and development of the Corpus Iuris Civilis. vocabThis dictionary was compiled by a 18th century lawyer, possibly a member of the Anyot family as it has a note on the front paste-down “dominus Anyot eques, 1718.” It is known that members of this Huguenot family were active as doctors, lawyers, and watchmakers in the later part of the seventeenth century in France, but after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, many of them left France to move to England. The dictionary is a beautiful example of a “18th century pocket reference book” bound in contemporary calf, with gilt spine decorated with raised bands. It is in a well-preserved condition with just some moderate rubbing to extremities, chipping to spine ends, and somewhat worn corners.vocab 2

New Additions to our Digitised Collection

  • The Law Library continues to work on enlarging our collection of digitised books from our rare and special collections. These are some latest additions that eloquently illustrate the breadth and depth of our collections:
  • The compleate copy-holder, wherein is contained a learned discourse of the antiquity and nature of manors and copy-holds … Necessary, both for the Lord and Tenant: Together, with the form of keeping a Copy-hold Court and Court-Baron / Edward Coke, 1644.StreamGate3 7

Do not be deceived by the title of this book authored by nobody else but famous, Sir Edward Coke (1552 – 1634). StreamGate3 9It has nothing to do with copies as we understand them now. According to Britannica, “copyhold, in English law, a form of landholding defined as a ‘holding at the will of the lord according to the custom of the manor.’ Its origin is found in the occupation by villeins, or nonfreemen, of portions of land belonging to the manor of the feudal lord. In 1926 all copyhold land became freehold land, though the lords of manors retained mineral and sporting rights.” Until 1926, manors themselves were freehold property, and were bought and sold between major landowners, while smaller landholdings within manors were held by copyhold tenure, while the land was technically owned by the Lord of the Manor. StreamGate3 5The term ‘copyhold’ originates from the custom when the official record of the copyhold on landholding was written up in the manorial court rolls and an official copy of the court roll entry was made for the tenant as their proof of title. This particular copy is especially interesting because printers’ waste (unused pages printed for other book) have been used as end papers.

  • Collection of legal documents relating to a lawsuit by Francis Rybot against Pierre DuCalvet, in the Court of Common Pleas, Province of Quebec, District of Montreal, 1783-1786.

StreamGate1 6This uninviting title is in fact an illustration to a less-known episode of the life of one of the famous figures of the Québec history. The digitised manuscript documents are related to the court case against Pierre DuCalvet, who was a Montreal trader, justice of the peace, epistle writer, author of the famous Appel à la justice de lÉtat, and passionate advocate of the reform of justice and constitutional system in Québec. The full biography of Pierre DuCalvet can be found in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

StreamGate 7Ce livre est le récit romancé des méfaits, vols, sacrilèges et meurtres d’une bande de brigands qui a terrorisé la ville de Québec et ses environs de 1834 à 1837. Vous pouvez trouver plus d’information sur la bande des Chambers ici. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, this work by François-Réal Angers was considered “one of the most readable and widely circulated books of the first half of the 19th century in Canada.”  It was published in several monograph editions in 1834, 1867, 1880, and 1969, serialised in at least three newspapers, and  translated into English in 1867 as The Canadian brigands; an intensely exciting story of crime in Quebec, thirty years ago!

  • A declaration of His Majesties royall pleasure, in what sort he thinketh fit to enlarge or reserve himself in matter of bountie / James I, King of England, 1897.

StreamGate 4 7This book is a facsimile reprint produced by the British Museum in 1897. The original was published in 1610. This declaration was issued by James I (1603-1625) as a clarifying statement concerning granting of monopolies following the grievances expressed in and by Parliament. The culmination of this discussion was adoption of the Statute of Monopolies 1624, 21 Jac 1, c 3, one of the key texts in the history of patent law. You can read more on the 1624 Statute of Monopolies in this article ‘Generally Inconvenient’: The 1624 Statute of Monopolies as Political Compromise. 33 Melb U L Rev 415 (2009).

And some more books…

  • A letter to Henry Warburton, Esq. M.P. upon the emancipation of the Jews / Basil Montagu, 1833.StreamGate 5 9
  • The work of a faculty of law in a university (An annual university lecture delivered by Frederick Parker Walton, the Dean of the Faculty of Law, and Professor of Roman Law at McGill University), 1898.StreamGate 6 3
  • A guide for constables, churchwardens, overseers of the poor, surveyors of the high-ways, treasurers of the county-stock, masters of the house of correction, bayliffs of mannors, toll-takers in fairs, &c. A treatise briefly shewing the extent and latitude of the several offices, with the power of the officers therein, both by common law and statute, according to the several additions and alterations of the law  / George Meriton, 1679.StreamGate 5 1
  • Index professionnel des avocats, notaires, protonotaires régistrateurs, shérifs, huissiers, médecins, pharmaciens, dentistes, architectes, arpenteurs, ingénieurs civils, et médecins vétérinaires de la province de Québec, 1894.StreamGate9 1

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Quid Novi Archives are Online!

This summer, the McGill library has been hard at work digitising historic McGill student newspapers. Now the project is completed, and the digital versions are accessible online at the Internet Archive. This extensive digital collection currently includes over 10,000 issues from various McGill student publications including The Fortnightly, The McGill Outlook, Le Délit, The McGill Daily, Quid Novi, The Dram and the Failt-Ye Times.  As you can see, our beloved Quid was also part of this massive effort. You can access the full archives of Quid Novi 656 issues here:

Good reading to everybody!

Une nouvelle acquisition : Le code Henry IV … avec des violettes.

Grace à la générosité du Wainwright Fund, qui attribue chaque année un budget destiné au développement et élargissement de la collection de notre bibliothèque dans les domaines du droit civil non-québécois, nous avons ajouté un nouveau livre rare à la Collections Wainwright :

  • Le code du très-chrestien et très-victorieux roy de France et de Nauarre, Henry IIII : Du droit ciuil iadis descrit, & à nous delaissé confusément par l’Empereur Iustinian & maintenant reduit & composé en bon & certain ordre, avec le droit ciuil de la France, contenant trente & vn liures / par M. Thomas Cormier …

photo 2L’auteur, Thomas Cormier (c.1523-1600), a été un historien et jurisconsulte français et un président en l’échiquier d’Alençon. Son Code Henry IV n’est pas un recueil d’ordonnances du souverain comme le Code Henry III, qu’on détient aussi dans notre collection, mais un traité de droit civil où l’auteur compare le droit romain et le droit civil français. L’ouvrage, destinée aux étudiants et praticiens de droit, est une synthèse du droit romain de Justinien qui selon l’auteur “à nous délaissé confusément par l’Empereur Justinien et maintenant réduit et composé en bon et certain ordre” auquel Cormier a ajouté du droit  français et plus précisément du droit français tel qu’il a été suivi en Normandie. Le traité a été rédigé d’abord en langue latine (1602) et traduit en français en 1603.

photo 5 photo 3L’exemplaire récemment acquis pour notre bibliothèque est notable par sa rareté (à notre connaissance il y a une seule copie identique de cette édition recensée dans la bibliothèque de l’université de Gand). Cette édition imprimée en 1615 à Rouen par Jean du Bosc est en toute évidence la reproduction non-autorisée de l’édition publiée en 1608 par Jean Arnaud. Jean du Bosc a copié non-seulement le texte mais aussi toute la typographie de l’ouvrage d’Arnaud et même sa marque d’impression  (Arion sur un dauphin) en mettant toutefois son propre nom sur la page titre et faisant une omission prudente de la mention de privilège. Malgré des multiples petits travaux de vers, essentiellement marginaux et affectant seulement légèrement le texte, le livre est en bon état de conservation : il a préservé sa reliure de l’époque pleine basane marron avec le dos à cinq nerfs orné aux motifs floraux dorés.

photo 1Pourquoi le Code Henry IV avec des violettes demanderiez-vous ? Parce que ce livre a conservé des traces charmantes d’un de ses lecteurs sombrés dans l’oubli, quatre violettes pressées et séchées entre ses pages, marquant peut-être la section que ce lecteur anonyme a contemplée plus longtemps et plus pensivement que les autres parce que selon Ophélie, « des pensées, [sont] en guise de pensées ».

New Additions to our Digitised Collections: Law Exams from 1861-1896 and Mooters Scrapbook from 1915-1916

We all know that e-exams for the past years are not available for the faculty of law. Not to exactly fill this gap, but to at least provide you with an insight into how the exams looked like for the 19th century McGill law students, we have digitized a volume from our Rare Books Collection that gathers the examination questions for the years 1861-1896. You can find there for example, the questions for the sessional examinations on the Civil Code for the second and third year students that were held on Tuesday, March 5th, 1872.

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Another glimpse into the student life of the days bygone is allowed by the scrapbook made by law students preparing for moot completion in in 1915-1916. The book contains handwritten accounts of the meetings, clippings from contemporary newspapers, a typewritten case Brown vs. Jones assigned to the students and the moot court decision.

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Both books are now available for viewing and downloading via WorldCat:

Examinations: http://mcgill.worldcat.org/oclc/893611291

Reports of moot trials: http://mcgill.worldcat.org/oclc/893611839

Law Rare Books: Wainwright Collection (Nouvelles Acquisitions)

vaud 2Grace à la générosité du Wainwright Fund, qui attribue chaque année un budget destiné au développement et élargissement de la collection de notre bibliothèque dans les domaines du droit civil non-Québécois, nous avons ajouté deux nouveaux livres rares à la Collections Wainwright :

  • Cours ou explication du coustumier du pays de Vaud/ fait par Gabriel Olivier l’ainé.  Lausanne : Frédérich Gentil, MDCCVIII [1708]
  • Remarques sur les loix et statuts du Pays de Vaud / par J. Francois Boyve.  A Neuchâtel : Chez les éditeurs du Journal helvétique, MDCCLVI [1756]

vaudLes deux ouvrages publiés au XVIIIe siècle sont consacrés au droit coutumier et statutaire du Canton de Vaud (appelé autrefois le Pays de Vaud) de l’époque d’avant le Code Civil suisse federal.  Ces livres sont plus qu’un monument ou un vestige de l’histoire du droit disparu il y a longtemps, car malgré l’adoption d’un droit prive commun à toute la Suisse (Code Civil) en 1907, des subsistances des coutumes locales persistent, d’ailleurs avec l’autorisation du celui-là : “À défaut d’une disposition légale applicable, le juge prononce selon le droit coutumier” (article 1, alinéa 2 du Code civil suisse).

Les livres sont aussi notables par leur aspect physique et représentent un intérêt en tant que les artefacts dévoilant les pratiques bibliophiliques du passé. Remarques sur les loix est un volume parfaitement préservé et somptueusement relié en plein cuir rouge sang d’époque avec les filets dorés sur les plats, des fleurons et filets dorés au dos à 7 nerfs et les tranches avec un décor très original et riche en bleu paon. Par contre, Cours ou explication du coustumier est un ouvrage d’une apparence simple et visiblement insignifiante avec les pages non-ébarbées, ce qui veut dire avec ses marges conservées et non-égalisées, relié modestement en cartonnage d’époque non-coloré et sans aucun ornement.

Ce contraste frappant est un témoignage d’une étape de l’histoire de l’imprimé : avant l’introduction de la fabrication mécanisée des livres au milieu du XIXe siècle la majorité des livres ont été vendus soit sans aucune reliure, comme cahiers des feuilles pliées, non-cousues et non-coupées, soit avec les reliures très rudimentaires en papier ou en carton. En achetant un livre, le client commandait la reluire permanente chez le vendeur, qui était parfois en même temps l’éditeur et le relieur, sinon chez un autre relieur préféré. Évidemment, Remarques sur les loix aurait appartenu à un bibliophile ou un avocat prospère qui a pu se permettre de l’avoir relié de cette façon assez luxueuse. Le choix de reliure n’était dicté que par sa vanité et ses moyens : un ouvrage pouvait être décoré avec les dorures et les armoiries, relié en peau de vélin, en maroquin, en daim ou en agneau velours, en chagrin, en basane, en tissue, ou en papier coloré. Ainsi, la majorité des livres de l’époque ont survécus jusqu’à nos jours non dans l’état comme ils avaient été vendus mais avec une reliure et une apparence générale façonnée par les gouts d’un de leurs propriétaires. En conséquence, les livres qui, comme c’est le cas du Cours ou explication du coustumier, ont conservés leurs modestes emballages d’origine sont assez rares et font un bel ajout à toute collection.

Book about the McGill Law Journal: The Journal: 60 Years of People, Prose, and Publication

So many people have published and edited with the McGill Law Journal that the Journal’s institutional memory could fill a book. This was the insight of the Managing Editor of volume 54, Eytan Bensoussan, who came up with the idea of writing a book about the history and legacy of the Journal. James Cummins, a journalist and writer from Ottawa, was commissioned to write the book by the Editor-in-Chief of volume 56. The result is an account of the singular nature of the McGill Law Journal, recounting the ways it was influenced by and has influenced the Canadian legal and political landscape.9781926716251_cover_coverbookpage-v2-modal

The McGill Law Journal is the premiere legal periodical in the history of Canadian scholarship. Since its founding in 1952 by Jacques-Yvan Morin (future leader of the Official Opposition in the National Assembly of Quebec) the Journal has been at the forefront of legal history. It was the first university-based law journal in Canada to be cited by the Supreme Court, and has since been outpaced by no other university journal in the frequency at which the Court has turned to it. And it has always has been run solely by students.

The Journal’s alumni covers a who’s who of the last 60 years in Canada, from international figures to business leaders; from national politicians to larger-than-life legal scholars; from judges to global entertainers. This is the story of the people who made the Journal work; of the people who each made their first real impacts on the world through an unearthly dedication and passion to their job at the MLJ. It is also the tale of the revolutionary ideas that flowed into, and in some situations started, in the pages of the publication they ran.

The book is based on interviews with the Journal’s alumni, a history of legal journals in Canada, and the content of each of the 58 volumes that came to be between 1952 and the end of the 60th anniversary year of the Journal in the spring of 2013. The culmination of this research provides a breathtaking picture of a history that was beginning to slowly fade into the past, strengthening the identity of a key part of Canadian society.

The journal: 60 Years of People, Prose, and Publication is now available at the Nahum Gelber Law Library: KEQ322 M34 2013.

Sources: http://lawjournal.mcgill.ca/en/text/2998, http://49thshelf.com/Books/T/The-McGill-Law-Journal-60-Years-of-People-Prose-and-Publication

Law Rare Books: New Additions to our Digitised Collections

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is fortunate to house a special collection on French law of Ancien Regime, the Wainwright Collection. It was formed on a basis of the working library of the renowned French jurist and legal historian Francois Olivier-Martin (1879-1952), doctor of law, professor of the legal history, and a prolific scholar who published more than 60 articles and 9 monographs. The Olivier-Martin’s library reflects with a remarkable accuracy the academic interests of its former owner with three major themes of the collection: French customary law, history of professional corporations, and history of pre-revolutionary French law, which found their manifestation in his three most significant works: Histoire de la coutume de la prévôté et vicomté de Paris (1922-1930), Organisation corporative de la France d’Ancien régime (1938), and Histoire du droit français des origines a la Révolution (1948). Those works, which are unrivaled in their use of primary sources and the breadth of the synthesis, are still widely cited by scholars writing about the history of French law or the history of professional corporations.

The copies of Histoire de la coutume…, Organisation corporative…, and Histoire du droit français… currently held in the McGill Law Library formerly belonged to Francois Olivier-Martin and bear multiple authorial manuscript annotations. book 82

Another feature that makes the McGill’s copies of Histoire de la coutume,and Organisation corporative unique is the fact that they contain more than 100 sheets of Olivier-Martin’s research notes, newspaper clippings, and letters. Notes 1 Notes 5

Recently, all three works as well as the enclosed ephemera have been digitised and now available for viewing and downloading via WorldCat: