More Rarities Found in Library

21Jul09

More spring cleaning, more rarities:

While going through our collection of uncatalogued antiques, I found 4 previously unknown (at least to the current staff) books owned by John Marshall Harlan. Here’s a screenshot of the title page of one of them:

John Marshall Harlan's opy of the Law of Infancy

John Marshall Harlan’s opy of the Law of Infancy

(I love the subject matter of some of these 19th century treatises.  In addition to the Law of Infancy, I’ve also found the Law of  Telegraphs and the Law of Master and Servant. I’m still waiting to stumble on the Law of Street Cars.)

This particular book is in horrible shape. It has no front cover, the back cover is barely hanging on, the spine is broken in a number of places, and the paper is too brittle to rebind. The book is nearly unusable, but since it’s signed by Harlan, we need to preserve what’s left. It’s now more of a relic than a book.

Also, earlier I had posted about an article Kurt Metzmeier and I had wrote about the books owned by Harlan’s father, James Harlan. There was a long itemized list of the books, most of which ended up in his son’s hands. We were thrilled when we found one of those books in our collection (Paley’s Treatise on the Law of Principal and Agent.) Now I have found 3 volumes out of a 4 volume set owned by James Harlan: Elliott’s Debates in the Several State Convention on the Federal Constitution. The only catch is that this book wasn’t on the itemized list after his death. Did he give away before his death? Or did his sons neglect to list it for other reasons? And if that’s the case, then how many other James Harlan books are floating around out there?

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