Antiquarian/Rare Books Vendors and Dealers: Foreign and International Law

By Lyonette Louis-Jacques

domesday-book-1804x972For those building special collections of rare law books, here is a list I compiled recently after a call for suggestions to the AALL FCIL-SIS (Foreign, Comparative, and International Law) and LHRB-SIS (Legal History & Rare Books) e-Communities, and the INT-LAW (International Law Librarians) listserv. Thanks especially to Mike Widener, Andreas Knobelsdorf, and Jonathan Pratter for suggesting names of antiquarian vendors/dealers/publishers, etc. of foreign, comparative, and international law rare books. Please send any other suggestions or updates to me at llou@uchicago.edu).

Here is the list:

Sometimes FCIL rare books are sold through auctions via Bonhams or Doyle.

Mega-catalogs or rare book search pages for identifying rare FCIL titles include AbeBooks.com, viaLibri, ZVAB (Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher), WorldCat, and KVK – Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (you can limit your search to the Buchhandel = Book Trade section). You can use these sources to check if a law title is unique or owned by few law libraries.  You can check these sources or digital libraries or commercial databases directly to see if a rare law book you own has already been digitized (if you’re thinking of special digitization projects).

For tracking the literature related to FCIL history, it’s useful to regularly review the Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law which includes an annual bibliography of essays and books) and “Orientamenti Bibliografici”, a bibliography coordinated by Rosalba Sorice with contributions from Manlio Bellomo, etc. published  in the Rivista Internazionale di Diritto Comune.

You can enroll in Mike Widener’s course for training in law rare book collecting. It’s a Rare Book School class called Law Books: History & Connoisseurship. He teaches it every two years or so. A reading list is available. Mike’s most recent law rare books class was in June 2016 and covered Roman, canon & civil law in addition to Anglo-American law. Bill Schwesig reported on this year’s class in the summer 2016 issue of the CALL Bulletin. Susan Gualtier, Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Sarah Ryan, and Fang Wang reported on the summer 2014 class in the March 2015 issue of AALL Spectrum.

It might be also useful for FCIL rare book collection development to check the catalogs and new acquisitions lists of research center libraries such as the Library of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (which, BTW, has a great digital library!).

Some of the libraries that have strong collection of rare FCIL book include Yale (including the Library of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law), Berkeley (Robbins Collection on Religious and Civil Law), Law Library of Congress (The Rare Book Collection), and the Peace Palace Library (Grotius Collection). Sharing knowledge with them, generalist rare book librarians, or EXLIBRIS-L subscribers, on FCIL rare book collecting would be important for others new to selecting materials in this area. What are some strong FCIL rare book collections or specialized vendors?

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