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Friday, May 19, 2017

Colonial New York Laws: David Gardiner, Eius Liber (1726)

(The following guest post is by our colleague Claire Stuckey, who has been doing terrific work to catalog our rare state law collection.  Some of these rare volumes date to the early colonial period, while others cover early state laws for those that achieved statehood later.) 

While cataloging a book for our rare collection, I found a bookplate and an inscription that led me to do some investigating, and I discovered a fascinating back story. I can’t confirm that the story is definitely related to the book we own, but it seems quite likely and is worth sharing.

The book in question is Actsof Assembly Passed in the Province of New-York, from 1691, to 1725, printed and sold by William Bradford, printer to the King’s most Excellent Majesty for the province of New-York, in 1726.  Bradford was the first printer in New York, and one of the earliest in the American colonies.  Benjamin Franklin sought employment from him, and an apprentice in his shop was John Peter Zenger.

At the front of this important volume of New York laws is an interesting bookplate. Although I was not able to identify the family crest as from the Gardiner family (discussed below), a single lion depicted on it may indicate Scotland. Sub cruce salus, the motto on the crest, is Latin for “salvation under the cross.” If anyone is able to discover more information on this crest, I would be very interested!

I had better luck with an inscription in the book: “David Gardiner, Ejus Liber 1726.” (Ejus liber means his book in Latin.) The date of the inscription, and the fact that the book is of New York laws, would fit with the book being the former property of a notable New York landholder, David Gardiner (1691-1751). The abbreviation, Esq., follows his name on his tombstone. According to a genealogical site, he was said to be a gentleman; a good farmer who kept about two hundred head of cattle, forty horses, and three thousand sheep; and a hunter who supposedly killed 365 wild ducks and sixty-five wild geese in one year. Most interestingly, he was the fourth proprietor of Gardiner’s Island and the first to be buried there.

Gardiner’s Island is a small island off of East Hampton, New York, which was granted in 1639 by King Charles I to David’s great-grandfather, Lion Gardiner (1599-1663). The island is still owned by the Gardiner family, and is the only American real estate still intact as part of an original royal grant. Lion also purchased the island from the Montaukett tribe, bartering a large black dog, blankets, a gun, powder, and shot. Lion and Wyandanch (1615-1658), the tribe’s sachem (primary chief), were said to be close friends, especially so after Lion arranged for the safe return of Wyandanch’s daughter when she was kidnapped by another tribe.

John Gardiner (1661-1738), Lion’s grandson and David’s father, had a brief encounter with the famed Captain Kidd (1645-1701), who visited the island in 1699 and buried some of his treasure there in John’s presence. Kidd told John that he would return to find the treasure intact or he would kill either John or David, who was eight years old at the time. Another story relates that he threatened to kill the entire family, should anything be missing from the buried treasure.

Kidd left the island shortly thereafter, sailing to Boston to meet with Lord Bellomont, the governor of the province of New York. Kidd trusted that Bellomont would help him clear his name of any wrongdoing with the English Crown. After all, he was officially a privateer for the English Crown, and Bellomont had been a major financial sponsor of Kidd’s in England. A series of circumstances, including quelling a near mutiny, had led Captain Kidd to piracy in 1698. Kidd’s trust in Bellomont was misguided, and he was arrested and shipped back to England. The treasure was retrieved from Gardiner’s Island and inventoried by commissioners for Bellomont, and a statement was taken from John Gardiner. Kidd was tried, found guilty, and eventually hanged (twice, because the rope broke) for the murder of a member of his crew and for piracy.

In 1953, the sixteenth proprietor of Gardiner’s Island, Robert David Lion Gardiner (1911-2004), took the Gardiner family’s copy of the inventory of Kidd’s Gardiner’s Island treasure with him to England when he and his wife attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was compared to the inventory taken when the treasure arrived in England with Kidd in 1699. They didn’t match.  There is at least one known piece of that treasure remaining in the United States. Captain Kidd gave John Gardiner’s wife a piece of gold silk, which is on view at the East Hampton Library.


   - Claire Stuckey, Cataloger

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tuesday, April 18: Celebrate Clarence Darrow's Birthday!

Come out and celebrate Clarence Darrow's birthday with the Law Library!  There will be great treats - cake and cupcakes - as well as a quiz about Darrow, his life and career, for prizes.  Don't forget to take a selfie with Clarence!

When: Tuesday, April 18, 11 a.m - 1 p.m.
Where: Library lobby
What: Birthday cake, cupcakes, and prizes!

The Law Library and Riesenfeld Center holds the preeminent collection of Darrow autograph letters, as well as works by and about Darrow and his career.

It is never too late for good presents!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Medieval Manuscripts in the Rare Books Collection

One of the interesting and valuable finds in early modern books are medieval manuscript fragments. Used at the time to strengthen the books' bindings, particularly along the spines, they have since become a subject of interest for book historians. In our collection we occasionally come across these fragments - technically our earliest materials - and have recorded several examples. More spectacular and more rare are books that are fully covered in medieval manuscript leaves, of which we also have a few.

These volumes often draw the interest of visitors and scholars, not only for the beauty and antiquity of their bindings, but also for the fragmentary manuscripts they preserve. Two examples in the collection are a 1575 edition of the Italian jurist Alessandro Tartagni's commentary on the Corpus juris civilis (the collection of Roman law received during the Middle Ages, which forms the basis of modern civil laws), and an influential Scottish collection of medieval laws and customs, the Regiam maiestatem Scotiae (1613).

Tartagni (1424-1477) was a legal standout of his day, a widely renowned, semi-itinerant jurist sometimes called the 'doctor of truth' or the 'golden doctor.' He taught canon and Roman law - as the latter was adapted to early Renaissance Italian life - to students who filled the cities as lawyers, diplomats, teachers and bureaucrats. Tartagni himself received doctorates from Bologna, the first and most famous medieval law school, and taught at Pavia, Ferrara, Padua, and Bologna, where he died. Each of our volumes of Tartagni's four-volume commentary on Roman law is covered in vellum (or animal skin) leaves from 13th-century manuscripts.  

At left is a detail from the cover of Tartagni's commentary on the middle books of Justinian's Digest of Roman law, known as the Infortiatum. Strikingly, the pictured manuscript leaf also includes an early commentary on the Digest. The leaf shows a section of book 19 of the Digest, on locatio conductio, or contracts for leasing goods and hiring services. The Roman legal text is in black, with red and blue initial letters to focus the reader's eye. A surrounding marginal gloss - a kind of abbreviated commentary - can be seen in a fainter brown ink. Just as Tartagni was commenting on Roman law in his volumes, a medieval scribe was filling the margins of his manuscript with short explanations of the same texts. A small history of evolving thought and pedagogy can thus be seen at a glance; all the more so as 16th-century editors then added footnotes to Tartagni's commentary. 

The Regiam maiestatem Scotiae is equally interesting, even if the connection between the text and the covering manuscript leaf is less clear. Grand in scope, the Regiam maiestatem was composed in Scotland in the 14th century and includes parts of Glanvill's medieval Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England, as well as elements of Roman and canon law, and ancient Scottish laws. Our edition was published in London, four years after the first edition compiled by John Skene was published in Edinburgh.

The manuscript that covers our Regiam maiestatem, at right, is a late 13th- or 14th-century antiphonal (or antiphonary), a liturgical book used for chanting the divine office in choir. It was tailored for use by monks, and needed to be large enough to be read by a small group. The particular leaf that covers the front and back of our volume is very similar to this leaf online (and the music can be sung with the aid of modern notation). Notably ours features a more intricate decorated initial letter "E." Monastic liturgical books were not much in demand in early modern Protestant Scotland, which may help explain its repurposed use here. Yet its aesthetics were not lost on an early modern binder, who positioned the beautiful "E" across the spine, where it would be seen more easily.  

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections    


Monday, April 3, 2017

Wednesday, April 5: Rare Books Open House

All are invited to the Riesenfeld Center's monthly rare books open house, this Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! Come out to enjoy free snacks and drinks, and see more treasures from the Library's rare books and special collections - including gems of early Minnesota law!

Rare Books Open House

When: Wednesday, April 5, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30, on the sub-plaza past Sullivan Cafe).
What: Treasures from the rare books and special collections, and free snacks and drinks.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

Announcement for the Ninth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition:

The Legal History and Rare Books (LH&RB) Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the Ninth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

The competition is designed to encourage scholarship and to acquaint students with the AALL and law librarianship, and is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting. 

Winning and runner-up entries will be invited to submit their entries to Unbound, the official journal of LH&RB. Past winning essays have gone on to be accepted by journals such as N.Y.U. Law ReviewAmerican Journal of Legal HistoryUniversity of South Florida Law ReviewWilliam & Mary Journal of Women and the LawYale Journal of Law & the Humanities, and French Historical Review.

The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website: www.aallnet.org/sections/lhrb/awards 

Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m.April 17, 2017 (EDT).

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wednesday, March 1: Rare Books Open House

All are invited to the Riesenfeld Center's second rare books open house this semester, next Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! Come out to enjoy free snacks and drinks, and see more treasures from the Library's rare books and special collections!

Rare Books Open House

When: Wednesday, March 1, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30, on the sub-plaza past Sullivan Cafe).
What: Treasures from the rare books and special collections, and free snacks and drinks.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Wednesday, February 8: Spring Exhibits Open House

All are invited to an open house this Wednesday, February 8, for the Law Library's 2017 spring exhibits:

"Rights Writ Large: Between the State and the Individual in International Law" and "Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective"

Open House:    Wednesday, February 8, 2017
                         12 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
                         Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30, Sub-plaza)

                         Snacks and refreshments will be served.

 “Rights Writ Large: Between the State and the Individual in International Law,” explores the rich history of rights discourse in international law, from early modern treatises on the laws of war and peace, to contemporary international humanitarian law, to highlight interrelated origins and important contemporary questions.   

Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective,” consider a question as enduring as conflict itself - by what means, and how far, are deep violations of law and justice to be redressed in the wake of conflict - with reference to interesting examples and practices of transitional justice in history. 

For more information about the exhibits, please see the links above.  The exhibits will be open from February 8 through June 2, 2017, in the Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center.  For more information or directions, please contact Ryan Greenwood (rgreenwo@umn.edu; 612-625-7323).