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Recent Additions to the Collection - Fall 2003

daniel r. coquillette rare book room - boston college law library

The Boston College Law Library is pleased to display for the first time a selection of its most recent acquisitions. The exhibition features books dating from the 17th through 19th centuries, including a strong collection of early international and comparative law books by Hugo Grotius and other important authors. Another hallmark of the collection is a group of works written by the lawyers of Doctors' Commons in England, pioneers of international law and early experts on civil law and comparative legal studies. Books that once belonged to the Doctors' Commons library also are on display, as is an 1848 will written for a member of Doctors' Commons.

Rounding out the exhibit are books inspired by Sir William Blackstone's landmark Commentaries on the Laws of England, an early play, Ignoramus, that ridiculed common lawyers in the time of King James, and beautiful miniature books printed by the famous Elzevir family. Many of the works in this exhibit feature original leather and vellum bindings, as well as autographs and bookplates of previous owners.

The Boston College Law Library is most grateful for the generosity of faculty who have donated the books displayed here and others as well. Special thanks to Professor Phyllis Goldfarb and Professor Daniel R. Coquillette, who donated an extensive collection of early international law materials. The exhibit was curated by Karen Beck, Legal Information Librarian and Curator of Rare Books. It will remain on view through mid-December 2003.

Cover of Burman Lauga willBurman Lauga will








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Last Will and Testament of Burman Lauga, January 26, 1843

This beautiful will was handwritten on parchment for a member of Doctors' Commons. Two views are shown above: the cover of the will, which is visible when the will is folded, and the will itself, which measures approximately three feet wide and two feet high when unfolded.

Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.

Grotius title pageGrotius frontispieces









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Hugo Grotius
De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres

Grotius' monumental work, De Iure Belli ac Pacis, or Of the Law of War and Peace, has been called the first and greatest international law text ever written. Written during the Thirty Years War and first published in Paris in 1625, the work had enormous influence on the ethical and legal thought of the 17th and 18th centuries and is regarded as the beginning of the law of nature and of nations, the forerunner of modern international law.

We are delighted to feature several rare early editions of Grotius' landmark work in this exhibit. The volume shown here was published in Amsterdam in 1720, and contains the valuable scholarly notes of Jean Barbeyrac. It is bound with Grotius' Mare Liberum (Amsterdam, 1720). The two beautiful frontispieces are shown above, along with the title page printed in red and black.

Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.

Selden title pageSelden frontispiece










Selden text








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John Selden
Of the Dominion, or Ownership of the Sea

1st English ed., translated by Marchamont Nedham, London, 1652. John Selden was one of several important early international law scholars who followed in the footsteps of Grotius. This was Selden's great 1636 response to Grotius' Mare Liberum (1609), also on view in this exhibit. Bound into this book with Selden's work is Dominium Maris: or, the Dominion of the Sea (London, 1652).

Several views of this beautiful book are shown here. Note the title page printed in two colors, the spectacular engraved frontispiece of Britannia commanding the ocean and the diverse type styles featured in the text.

Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette.