The C J Koh Law Library maintains a small Rare Book Collection of old and valuable legal works from as early on as 1576. Some of the titles include:
- Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace, in Three Books (London: Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby …, 1738)
- John Selden, Iohannis Seldeni Mare Clausum, Seu, De Dominio Maris Libri Duo (Londini: Excudebat Will. Stanesbeius pro Richardo Meighen, 1635).
- John Selden, Tracts (London: T. Basset and R. Chiswell, 1683).
- Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, La Graunde Abridgement (London: Richardi Tottelli, 1577).
- Sir Edward Coke, The Fourth Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England: Concerning the Jurisdiction of Courts, 4th ed. (London: A. Crooke, 1669).
- Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1766-1769).
- Sir William Blackstone, Reports of Cases Determined in the Several Courts of Westminster-Hall, from 1746 to 1779 (London: W. Strahan and others, 1781).
A brief synopsis of some of the titles:
La Graunde Abridgement by Sir Anthony Fitzherbert (1577)
La Graunde Abridgement is one of the earliest reports in the Rare Book Collection. It digests over 14,000 decisions alphabetically, mostly from the Year Books, and was the first systematic attempt to provide a summary of English law. La Graunde Abridgement was first published in 1514 and written in old French. The edition we have was printed in 1577.
The Institutes by Sir Edward Coke (1669)
The Institutes, published in four parts, have been extremely influential in the development of the common law. The four volumes address property law, statutes, pleas of the crown and the jurisdiction of courts respectively. Coke published the first volume of The Institutes in 1628, which delineated some of the basic rights of an individual in a stable legal order. The last three volumes, which included an analysis of the Magna Carta, were so incendiary that they were suppressed by King Charles I for almost a decade after Coke’s death.
Commentaries of the Laws of England by Sir William Blackstone (1766-1769)
From 1765 to 1769, Blackstone published the four volumes of his Commentaries, which were immediately successful in both England and the American colonies. They were long regarded as the leading work on the development of English law. The work was divided into four volumes – on the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs, and provided an introduction to English law in a clear style that was easily understandable to the public.
Rare Books are available for reference but photocopying is prohibited due to the fragile nature of many of the items.
CJ Koh Law Library