Perspective: Treasure Trove of Legal Literature
One of the key aims of Anthony Collins during his twelve-month term as president of Birmingham's Law Society is to raise the profile of its substantial library in the city centre.
Home to countless important legal documents and volumes of reference books, the society hit the headlines a year ago when it sold off some of the collection at auction.
More than 1,000 lots of books and pamphlets were sold at the Knightsbridge sales room of Bonhams & Brooks. It was described as the most important sale of law books for 30 years.
One of the earliest books in the sale, a 1495 first edition in Norman French of Nicolas Statham's Abridgement of Laws, covers case law from the reign of Edward 1 to Henry VI. It sold for just under pounds 30,000 against an estimate of pounds 10,000 to pounds 15,000.
All sorts of documents had been in the law society's archives for many years. While cataloguing the sale, Bonhams found a pamphlet, written by the poet Shelley, denouncing the sentence passed on the publisher of Thomas Paine's Age of Reason. It had previously been thought that only one copy of the pamphlet existed, says David Park, of Bonhams. This one sold for pounds 74,800 after an estimate of pounds 5,000 to pounds 7,000. …