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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: English Law

A Collection of State-Trials, London, 1735
English law was a special interest of noted law librarian Arthur C. Pulling, after whom the Rare Books Collection is named. Between 1912 and 1942, Pulling assembled one of the strongest collections of law in the United States, and one of the finest rare law collections. Pulling developed a preeminent collection of the main genres of English legal publishing, including collections of abridgements, statutes, Year Books, nominative reports, trial accounts, dictionaries and treatises. Today the Library's collection of early English law, printed between 1490 and 1599, is one of the finest in the country, featuring over half the titles found in Joseph Beale’s benchmark A Bibliography of Early English Law Books (1926). These begin with Statham’s Abridgement of Cases to the End of Henry VI (1490), one of the earliest printed works of English law. Shown in the exhibit are a volume of state trials, opened to a trial of John Lilburne, a Leveller "so-called" and early proponent (through his own trials) of defendants' rights, and a case before the House of Lords, until relatively recently England's highest court of appeal.

A Collection of State-Trials and Proceedings upon High Treason … London, 1735.
Appeal Cases [House of Lords].  London, 1814-21.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

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