First Edition of The Common Law in the Uncommon Green Cloth Binding with a Holmes Autograph Letter, Signed Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr. [1841-1935]. The Common Law. Boston: Little, Brown, And Company, 1881. [i]-xvi, 422 pp. Octavo (8-1/4" x 5-1/4"). Original green pebbled cloth, blind double frames to boards, gilt title to spine, triple gilt rules at spine ends, publisher name at foot of spine. A few nicks and minor stains to boards, front joints just starting at ends, some chipping to spine, corners bumped and lightly worn, front hinge staring, early bookseller ticket to front pastedown, bit of cellotape residue to front free endpaper. Light toning to text, faint, gradually diminishing staining to fore-edges of leaves from p. 273 to end of text, early owner inscription ("John R. Emory/ Newark NJ") to title page. [With] Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr. [Autograph Letter, Signed, Washington, DC, December 17, 1913]. Content on first page of 7-3/4" x 5" U.S. Supreme Court bifolium letterhead. Light toning and soiling, faint horizontal crease at center, small chip to fore-edge of first page, tear just beginning along fold. Letter accompanied lightly edgeworn typewritten bookseller description and transcription dated 1941 that was formerly affixed with cellotape to front free endpaper of book. Together two items. $1,750. * First edition, first issue, with the two-line printer statement at foot of the title page, verso, reading "University Press:/ John Wilson and Son, Cambridge and one-line statement to foot of p. 422 reading "University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge," a copy in the unusual green cloth binding. As Friedman points out, "The Common Law was easily the most distinguished book on law by an American published between 1850 and 1900." In contrast to earlier Anglo-American jurists, and the reigning positivist ethos of the nineteenth century, Holmes proposed that the law was not a science founded on abstract principles but a body of practices that responded to particular situations. This functionalist interpretation led to his radical idea that law was not discovered, but invented. This theme is announced at the beginning of Lecture I: "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience" (1). Sent to an unknown recipient, the letter is.
Book number 71619