An Exceptional First-Edition Set of Kent's Commentaries in Contemporary Bindings Kent, James [1763-1847]. Commentaries on American Law. New York: Published by O. Halsted, 1826-1830. Four volumes. Octavo (8-3/4" x 5-1/2"). Contemporary calf, blind fillets to boards, red and black lettering pieces and blind fillets to spines. Some minor nicks, scuffs and stains to boards, light rubbing to extremities, corners bumped and lightly worn, a few joints and hinges starting, owner signature of Francis Granger to front free endpaper of each volume, signature in Volume I dated December 12, 1835. Moderate toning and light foxing to text. An exceptional copy of a landmark work. $7,500. * First edition. Kent's Commentaries is probably the single most important interpretation of American law. Writing in 1847, Marvin ranked it above Blackstone and observes that Kent's Commentaries "contain not only a clear statement of the English law, with all the alterations that have taken place since the time of Blackstone, but a full account of the main principles of Equity, also, a review of the modifications engrafted on the English law by the different states of the Union." Marvin's latter observation points to the significance of this landmark work. Published at a time when there was significant opposition to English law, Kent's Commentaries established it in a manner that appealed to the majority of influential American jurists and legislators. As Roper notes, by transplanting English common law, the Commentaries "had the two-prong effect of helping to maintain the primacy of judge-made law in contrast to codification by legislatures, while providing the legal profession with the degree and kind of certainty it craved." Francis Granger [1792-1868], a former owner of our copy, was a lawyer and politician who lived in Canandaigua, New York. A graduate of Yale who read law in Canandaigua, he served two terms in the New York State Assembly and two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the U.S. Postmaster General from March 6, 1841 to September 18, 1841. Marvin, Legal Bibliography 438. Roper, "James Kent" in American National Biography 12:598-199. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 5398.
Book number 71479