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American Law Review
     Established 1890  


Book Sale Today!
First Edition of
William Blackstone's
Commentaries Available

      First French Edition of Blackstone. Blackstone, Sir William [1723-1780]. Commentaires sur les loix angloises, de M. Blackstone. Traduits de l’Anglois par M.D.G Sur la quatrieme edition d’Oxford. Bruxelles: J.L. de Boubers, 1774-6. Six volumes. Octavo. Two folding tables. [4], 489, [2]; [2], 486, [2]; [2], 473, [2]; [2], 437, [2]; [2], 512, [2]; [2], 500, [2] pp. Woodcut fleurons on titles, woodcut head- and tail-pieces. Contemporary half-calf over decorated paper boards. Gilt leather spine labels. Extremities somewhat worn, some foxing. A very nice set. $2,000.

[Editor's Note on scarce first French edition. Translated by August Pierre Damiens de Gomicourt [1723-1790], who is not named in the volumes, using the fourth English edition of 1770. The editor claims the translation benefitted from Gomicourt’s great familiarity “with the laws, the structure of the government, the spirit of the people, and the history of England.” Eller, The William Blackstone Collection in the Yale Law Library 72-3. Brunet, Manuel du libraire et de l’amateur de livres I:958. Last Authorial Edition with Thirteen Engraved Portraits.]

    Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England, in Four Books. London: A. Strahan and W. Woodfall, 1793-1795. Four volumes. Octavo. Thirteen engraved portraits. Two tables (one folding). [15], 485; [9], 520, xix, [2]; [9], 455, xxxv, [1]; [9], 443, vii, [71] pp. [Pagination irregular]. Contemporary calf, rebacked with new spine labels. Rubbed, wear to extremities. Some foxing, slight dampstaining to a few leaves in the first volume. A good set. $1,200.

[Editor's Note on twelfth edition, with the last corrections of the author, and with notes and additions by Edward Christian; this was the first with his notes and they are separated by a rule from the body of text. Later American editions often included a selection of these notes. This edition, moreover, was originally published in numbers, each number containing a portrait of an eminent judge, though Christian disparages that as “not creditable to an Author who takes upon himself any degree of responsibility in a literary work.” The thirteen plates in the present set feature: Blackstone; Lord Somers; Sir John Fortescue; Sir Thomas Littleton; Sir Edward Coke; William, Earl of Mansfield; Lord Chief Baron Gilbert; Sir John Comyns; Philip, Earl of Hardwicke; Lord Chief Justice Holt; Sir Matthew Hale; Sir Michael Foster; and, Lord Chief Justice Raymond. Eller.]

    Blackstone, Sir William [1723-1780]. Commentaries on the Laws of England. In Four Books. With the Last Corrections and with Notes and Additions by Edward Christian. London: Printed by A. Strahan for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1809. Four volumes. Gainsborough frontispiece portrait engraved by J. Hall, 2 tables (1 folding). Star-paged. xvi, 485 [i.e. 676]; vii, 520 [i.e. 667], xix; vii, 455 [i.e. 520], xxxiv; vii, 443 [i.e. 545], vii, [71]pp., 1 leaf (publisher’s advertisement). Bookseller’s label and owner’s stamp on first endpapers. Modern quarter calf in period style over cloth boards. A very attractive copy. $1,500.

[Editor's Note on fifteenth edition, first (?) printing (with the half-title in volume I [which from a collation of the signatures is the only volume which ever had a half-title], and with one variation on Eller: the index in the final volume has 71 pages followed by an advertisement leaf). Edward Christian “had a good knowledge of old law and legal history, and there is no doubt that his edition of Blackstone is good and that some of his notes are learned and useful.” Holdsworth, History of English Law XIII:480. Elsewhere Holdsworth call him “the author of a very good edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries.” This is the last edition which was revised by Christian, with his notes printed as footnotes. “During the period when Christian was editing his four editions of the Commentaries, he was preparing a supplemental volume to Blackstone’s Commentaries. He abandoned this project, and was induced to supply the present proprietors of the work, who were preparing a new edition, with notes, and to reserve the consideration of such subjects as have not been an immediate reference to any passage in the Commentaries for a separate supplemental volume.’” Eller 27. The supplemental volume was probably never published. Harvard Law Catalogue (1909 ed.) I:187. Sweet & Maxwell’s Bibliography of English Law, I:27-28(8).]

Copyright © 1890-2002 William Blackstone School of Law Trustees. All rights reserved.





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