A Handsome First-Edition Set of Kent's Commentaries Kent, James [1763-1847]. Commentaries on American Law. New York: Published by O. Halsted, 1826-1830. Four volumes. 508, 528, 413, 550 pp. Octavo (8-3/4" x 5-1/4"). Recent period-style calf, black-stamped frames to boards, gilt fillets and red and black lettering pieces, retained from earlier binding, endpapers renewed. Light toning to interiors, slightly heavier toning to Volume IV, negligible light foxing and ink spots to a few leaves in each volume, section of The United States Review and Literary Gazette (May 1827) containing an anonymous review of Volume I, with a contemporary manuscript note identifying Theron Metcalf as the reviewer, bound after index of Volume IV, two contemporary owner signatures to each title page (of Edwin Hutchingson, struck through, and Charles A.F. Swan), another signature (Edwin Hutchingson) to head of p. 1 of Volume IV. A handsomely bound copy with notably fresh interiors. $5,000. * 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 it contains "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 considerable 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." Marvin, Legal Bibliography 438. Roper, "James Kent" in American National Biography 12:598-199. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 5398.
Book number 72869