“AT ONCE ACCLAIMED A CLASSIC”: FIRST AND SECOND EDITION SET OF BLACKSTONE’S COMMENTARIES, HANDSOMELY BOUND
BLACKSTONE, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1766-69. Four volumes. Quarto, 18th-century full diced calf rebacked, raised bands, red and green morocco spine labels, gilt armorial centerpieces on covers. $6000.
Mixed first and second edition set (second edition of Volumes I and II, first edition of Volumes III and IV) of Blackstone’s landmark Commentaries, arguably the single most important legal work in Anglo-American history.
One of the greatest achievements in legal history, Blackstone's Commentaries of the Laws of England was instrumental in both defining the English constitution and establishing common law as the basis of the American legal system. "The Commentaries are not only a statement of the law of Blackstone's day, but the best history of English law as a whole which had yet appeared… The skillful manner in which Blackstone uses his authorities new and old and the analogy of other systems of law to illustrate the evolution of the law of his day had a vast influence, both in England and America" (NYU, 34). The Commentaries helped clarify English law by introducing to the public its formative traditions. "Until the Commentaries, the ordinary Englishman had viewed the law as a vast, unintelligible and unfriendly machine… Blackstone's great achievement was to popularize the law and the traditions which had influenced its formation… He did for the English what the imperial publication of Roman law did for the people of Rome" (PMM 212). With engraved Table of Consanguinity and folding Table of Descents in Volume II. Volumes I and II are each one (Vol I.) and two (Vol. II) years after the first editions of 1765 and 1766. Sweet & Maxwell, 27. Marvin 122. Harvard Law Catalogue I:187. Occasional ink marginalia in an early hand (Volume III).
Infrequent faint foxing, occasional faint marginal dampstain; expert restoration to corners. A handsome set.