First American Edition of Stephens's New Commentaries Stephen, Henry John [1787-1864]. New Commentaries on the Laws of England (Partly Founded on Blackstone). New-York: Halsted & Voorhies, 1841-1846. [Imprint varies: Volumes II-IV state New-York: John S, Voorhies.] Four volumes. Folding tables of descents and consanguinity. Octavo (8-1/2" x 6"). Contemporary law calf, blind rules to boards, red and black lettering pieces to spine. Moderate rubbing with some wear to extremities, some chipping to lettering pieces, some stains and scuffs to boards, hinges cracked or starting. Offsetting to margins of endleaves, occasional light foxing, faint dampstaining to second half of Volume IV. Early owner stamps to each front pastedown, interior otherwise clean. A solid copy of an uncommon set. $500. * First American edition, a reprint of the first London edition, 1841-1845, with some minor typographical changes and the omission of the Table of Consanguinity from Volume II. New Commentaries is an exposition of English law that preserves Blackstone's topical arrangement and the sections from his text that were still relevant in Stephen's day. (These are set off with square brackets.) A successful work, it went through twenty editions by 1938. In the Dictionary of National Biography Dicey observed that "in reality it was an original production, differing essentially in character and merit from his predecessor. (...) Stephen showed the qualities in which Blackstone was comparatively deficient--consummate logical power and singular precision and accuracy of style. Had the work been published as an original treatise, it would have stood upon a level with Blackstone's work" (XVIII:1047). Eller, The William Blackstone Collection in the Yale Law Library 204. Laeuchli, A Bibliographical Catalog of William Blackstone 488.
Book number 44258