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852 RARE: Hiding in Plain View – Price caps on Spanish books

Earlier this year Historical & Special Collections acquired a 1571 edition of the Spanish bishop and jurist Diego de Covarrubias y Leyva’s Clementinae, si furiosus, de homicidio, relectio—a treatise on murder published in Salamanca.

Title page of Clementinae, si furiosus, de homicidio, relectio, 1571

Title page of Clementinae, si furiosus, de homicidio, relectio, 1571

While cataloging it, I couldn’t help but notice a half-size sheet of paper tipped in following the title page.

Tasa insertThe wording looked vaguely familiar, one of the preliminaries that readers usually skips over to get to the main text. But the fact that this slip of paper appeared to be a last minute addition caught my eye. What exactly was it anyway? And how was it related to the phrase at the foot of the title page: “Esta tassado en“?

Detail of the title page: "Esta tassado en"

Detail of the title page: “Esta tassado en”

The slip of paper turns out to be a tasa (or tassa) the maximum retail price allowed for the book. This was established by the powerful Council of Castile and certified by an “escrivanos” (a clerk or notary)–in this case one Domingo de Zavala. The price of books had been regulated by law since the late fifteenth century. This price cap was based on the number and size of sheets of paper used in the production of every book published in Castile, no matter what the topic.

In the case of this slender volume of canon law, the maximum price was three maravedis per sheet. The sheets referred to in this book’s tasa (“cada pliego escripto de molde”) are the printed sheets as they came off the press— not the actual pages in the final product. This is because in the hand-press period (approximately 1455 to 1830) a single sheet, folded and cut, could produce anywhere from two to sixty-four pages, depending on the desired size of the finished book.

Unlike the tasa inserted into this copy of Covarrubias’ work, most tasas, sometimes combined with licenses, are clearly identified as such:

The license and tasa in "Capitulos generales de las cortes del año de ochenta y seys, fenecidas y publicadas en el de nouenta" (Published in Madrid, 1590)

The license and tasa in Capitulos generales de las cortes del año de ochenta y seys, fenecidas y publicadas en el de nouenta (Published in Madrid, 1590)

Sometimes the tasa is stated simply at the foot of the title page:

Detail from title page of "Reportorio de la nueva recopilacion de las leyes del reyno" (Published in Alcalá de Henares, 1571)

Detail from title page of Reportorio de la nueva recopilacion de las leyes del reyno (Published in Alcalá de Henares, 1571)

Perhaps the latter option was the original intention in Covarrubias’ 1571 edition …

Esta tassado en… but for reasons unknown the maximum retail price established for the book was never added so the separate tasa statement needed to be inserted after printing.

In addition to capping book prices, the Council of Castile had a firm hand on the business of publishing and printing books in other ways. This included the issuing of licenses to publish, privileges (the right to reprint), censorship, and other forms of governmental oversight. The Spanish book trade continued to be tightly regulated well into the eighteenth century, but the tasa for books was discontinued in 1763, early in the reign of Carlos III, King of Spain.

New e-resources at Harvard

The Harvard Library has an astounding amount of resources, with new titles coming in every day!  For help efficiently navigating it all, make a time to meet with a librarian or contact the Reference Desk.

Among our newest e-resources:

Note: all “about” descriptions are taken from the resources themselves.

Digital Theatre Plus

About: Watch high quality films of leading theatre productions | Discover how plays are brought to the stage in interviews with the creative teams | Learn about interpretive choice through detailed analysis of play texts | Teach key plays with stimulating and relevant support

Japan Chronicle

About: The English-language Japan Chronicle Weekly (1902 – 1940) is the newspaper of record for Japan’s engagement with modernity and its emergence, through war, political and social upheaval and seismic social change in East Asia, onto the world stage in the first half of the twentieth century. Historians of East Asia have long seen the Japan Chronicle as a uniquely valuable resource. This well-informed, controversial but always readable source of news and opinion on Japan and East Asia offers an intriguing and lively Japanese complement to the North-China Herald, available in the East Asia Archive Online since 2011.

Prowessdx (India and Singapore)

About: Prowess is a database of the financial performance of companies. Annual Reports of companies and data available from stock exchanges and regulators are the principal sources of the data. Prowessdx is a delivery of the Prowess database that is specially designed for academia. Prowessdx facilitates easy downloading of the data in simple text format.

The database covers the profit and loss statement, balance sheet and ratios based on these. In the case of listed companies, it includes cash flow statement, quarterly financial statements, share prices, corporate action and daily total returns. Financial statements based on consolidated and standalone basis are available. Financial statements are standardised. The database does not suffer from any deliberate survival bias.

Association of Research Libraries SPEC Kit collection 

About: SPEC surveys gather information from ARL member institutions on current research library practices and policies. SPEC Kits combine the survey results and documentation from ARL member institutions to guide libraries as they address the ever-changing challenges facing libraries. These guides help libraries learn about current practice in research libraries, implement new practices and technologies, manage change, and improve performance.

Support Open Access Scholarship with the Open Access Button

Open Access Button logo. CC BY.

Open Access Button logo. CC BY.

As you may already know, this week is Open Access Week, a week devoted to “promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research,” and Harvard is hosting a number of events in recognition of this important goal (you can find the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communication website).

One way you can advocate for Open Access now and in the future (while simultaneously helping your own research) is to start using Open Access Button. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, you can click on it every time you encounter an academic work that is behind a paywall. Pushing the button (which works in all browsers and also offers a Chrome plugin and a Firefox extension as well as a version for use on Android devices) will automatically search for a free version of the paper that you can access immediately and, if such a version is not found, will automatically contact the author about accessing the paper. If you can’t access the work immediately, your story will be collected and added to the list of stories used by Open Access Button to advocate for changes in the publishing approach for academic works. It is important to note that Open Access Button will make information about your use of the button publicly available, but this information will help to show the importance of Open Access in academia and just might help you find Open Access versions of scholarship you need.

Are you a developer? Open Access Button is licensed under an open source software license and all of their code is available on GitHub. Check out their For Developers page to learn about how you can contribute to the project.

852 RARE: New Acquisition with Strong Ties to Harvard Law

The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce this recent acquisition, a chair with a unique provenance story and strong ties to the Harvard Law School. This adjustable back armchair, commonly referred to as a Morris chair, was first owned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and used in his summer home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. The chair was included in a 1935 appraisal of Holmes’ personal property in his Beverly Farms home, “Mahogany Morris Chair,” item 357. After his death, his nephew and niece Edward and Mary Stacy Holmes purchased the chair from his estate as part of a larger group of items paid for May 26, 1936. They gifted it to Felix and Marion Frankfurter in 1939, probably in honor of his appointment to the United States Supreme Court.

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair
September 2014

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair September 2014

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair
September 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holmes and Frankfurter met in 1912 and carried on a close friendship until Holmes’ death in 1935. Several years before his death, Holmes chose Frankfurter as his biographer. Part of their friendship included Frankfurter selecting Holmes’ secretary from the Harvard Law School’s graduating class; among those selected was Mark De Wolfe Howe. Howe served as Holmes’ secretary from 1933-1934 and later became Justice Holmes’ official biographer.

In a letter dated April 30, 1963, Frankfurter wrote to Howe: “One of the things that just crossed my mind is what disposition to make of the Holmes chair when the time comes to bow to the inevitable. . . . After some reflection and with Marion’s warm concurrence, I should like the Holmes chair to come to you when I can no longer occupy it, and the reason for this desire is because of the feeling the old gentleman had about you and particularly his feeling of gratitude to you.” The chair remained in Frankfurters possession until his death in February 1965. Later that year Frankfurter’s executor made arrangements to deliver the chair to Howe’s home.

John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his Brookline residence Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield

John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his
Brookline residence
Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield

Howe did not have much time with the chair, surviving Frankfurter by just two years. Howe’s daughters eventually gave the chair to Harvard Law School alumnus, professor, and former Frankfurter clerk John H. Mansfield. Mansfield had strong ties to both Frankfurter and Howe. In a 1963 letter to his secretary Elsie Douglas, Frankfurter named Mansfield as one of a few individuals “whom I deem wholly qualified to write my judicial biography.” Howe and Mansfield spent nine years together on the Harvard Law School faculty and like Holmes and Frankfurter carried on a close friendship. Mansfield greatly enjoyed the chair, sitting in it every day after work and explaining to visitors the story of the legal greats who sat in the chair before him.

All of the chair’s former owners were Harvard Law School alumni and faculty members so it is extremely fitting that the chair’s final home should be the Law School.

The chair is the gift of John Howard Mansfield and Maria Luisa F. Mansfield and can be viewed in the Caspersen Room, 4th floor, Harvard Law School Library.

 

Detail of plaques on the back of the chair

Detail of plaques on the back of the chair

Bestlaw – A New Tool That Aims to Make Westlaw Better

Bestlaw LogoUsers of WestlawNext will be happy to know that there is a new tool that might make your research just a little bit easier. A law student from the UC Berkeley School of Law has created a browser extension called Bestlaw that, in the words of their website, “add[s] the features Westlaw forgot.” Among these features are options for a more readable presentation of the text that removes extraneous menus and addition sources, the option to share the link to a document more seamlessly via email or social media, a feature that prevents you from getting signed off automatically, and tools for copying information about the case. Perhaps more interesting for many law students, one of the pieces of information that you can copy with a single click is the Bluebook citation for the document you are reading. Right now this feature only works for reported federal cases, but there are plans to extend it to other documents on Westlaw as well. While you should always check your citations and not rely on a third party to create them for you, initial tests of this feature produced correct citations.

Currently Bestlaw is only available as a browser extension for Chrome and it only works with Westlaw, but the website for the tool says that a Firefox version and features that will work with Lexis are also in the works. If you want to try it out, you the installation process requires only two clicks and if you decide you don’t like it, the website links to clear instructions for both disabling and removing it.

If you are interested in learning about other browser extensions that can help you make your research more efficient, stop by our training session on October 28th. For a full list of our technology training sessions, see our research training calendar.

The Scottish Independence Referendum

Scottish Flag photo by flickrtickr2009. CC BY 2.0

Scottish Flag photo by flickrtickr2009. CC BY 2.0

As you may know, on Thursday Scotland will vote on whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom. Some estimates put the number of voters registered to participate in the referendum at over 4 million, which is more than 95% of Scotland’s adult population. And, campaigning has remained active, and in some cases heated, in the weeks and months leading up to the referendum, with voices as disparate as the Pope and David Beckham supporting unity with Great Britain and everyone from Sir Sean Connery to Vivienne Westwood supporting independence. Even Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons (as seen below) and John Oliver (not entirely safe for work) have weighed in. Polls have differed in the exact vote predicted, but everyone seems to agree that the vote is likely to be quite close.

While this may seem largely like a political issue, there are some important laws and legal decisions underlying the vote. The first, and perhaps most important, is the Edinburgh agreement. This agreement, which was signed on October 15, 2012, set forth the agreement between the United Kingdom government and the Scottish government regarding the referendum and specified what would be included in the referendum legislation. The Memorandum of Agreement attached to the Edinburgh agreement further specified that “The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom,” a passage that has led to much speculation about what would occur if the people of Scotland ultimately vote to leave the United Kingdom.

After this agreement was signed, the Scottish Independence Referendum Act of 2013 was passed to set forth the exact procedure for the referendum. This Act includes provisions on who may vote in the referendum and restrictions on legal challenges to the outcome of the referendum among other provisions. You can see the full Act below:

UKSupremeCourtShieldCampaigning has been active on both sides of the vote and many are eager to cast their votes, including at least two prisoners who appealed the ban on inmates voting in the referendum all the way to the UK Supreme Court. The case, entitled Moohan and another (Appellant) v The Lord Advocate (Respondent), was fast-tracked to ensure that it was decided before the referendum and was heard by a panel of 7 Justices on July 24, 2014. On the same day, they issued their, in the words of The Guardian, “unusually quick summary decision less than an hour after hearing final oral submissions on the case,” in which they upheld the lower courts’ rulings that European court rulings which hold that banning prisoners from voting violates their human rights do not apply in the case of a referendum. This decision means that the referendum will go forward without the vote of prisoners, but other than this small group, voter registration has proved to be quite high. According to the BBC, 4,285,323 people registered to vote in the referendum by the September 2nd deadline, “making it the largest electorate ever in Scotland.”

While it is still unclear which side will win, if the majority of voters do cast their ballot in favor of independence, this will only be the start of a long road to complete independence. Some scholars have estimated that the timeframe for negotiated independence would take between 18 and 36 months in total. Moreover, Scotland’s status in the European Union would be uncertain if it became independent, with the two sides of the campaign disagreeing over the process the new country would have to follow to gain re-admittance into the EU and the European Commission declining to comment. No matter what the outcome of the vote, this referendum has presented a number of fascinating legal issues!

Learn about finding legislative intent

Proquest (home of Proquest Congressional) is hosting a webinar open to all, Using Legislative History to Find Legislative Intent. It will take place Thursday, September 25, 2014, 3:00pm – 4:30pm and is open to interested students, faculty and staff.

From Proquest:

This 90-minute session is designed for the associate, judicial, law firm or government agency law clerk, intern, extern or research assistant, law student, and law review notes & comments editor. You will learn how to use ProQuest Congressional Digital Suite & Legislative Insight, the premier legal research tools for federal legislative and government materials to:

1. Develop an understanding of the legislative process both:

a. Procedurally – How did the language read as first proposed, what committees considered the proposal, when were amendments made and where was the proposal when it was amended;

b. As an adversarial process – who was lobbying in support of the proposal and what were they trying to accomplish, who was active in opposition what were their objections, who was responsible for amendments to the proposal;

2. Become familiar with the documents available pertinent to your issue;

3. Identify where in the process the changes you care about occurred – this provides a mechanism to narrow the scope of your search for explanations for why the language was changed;

4. Learn how to identify both direct and circumstantial evidence of intent.

To register, visit Proquest.

Love Your Library Fest 2014: September 19!

Library Fest Heart transHLS students, mark your calendars for Love Your Library Fest Friday, September 19, 2:00-5:00pm!

Library Fest is a fun orientation to the Library’s people, services, and resources. The Fest includes:

  • learning more about library services
  • a peek at an assortment of treasures from HLS and legal history
  • meeting some of our legal information vendors

Every law student who completes 3 stations will receive a movie ticket. For each station completed, HLS students will get an entry for the grand prize raffle, with a bonus raffle entry for completing all five stations. Prizes (one each for a lucky JD and LLM/SJD student) are New England gift baskets with a $100 Grafton Group restaurant gift card–good at Grafton Street, Park, Russell House Tavern, and Temple Bar!

Faculty, staff, and other members of the Harvard community are welcome as well. See you there!

Finding Records That Are No Longer in PACER

As some of you may have already heard, PACER, the online repository for records and filings from U.S. Federal Courts, recently removed documents from five courts in preparation for an update to the system. Though efforts are underway by some private organizations to find a way to make these documents publicly available again, this has left many PACER users concerned about how to find these documents (which included records from some high profile cases) in the meantime. If you find yourself looking for these documents, there are a couple of approaches you can take.

First, all Harvard Law School students have access to Bloomberg Law, which offers a helpful docket search feature. While it does not include records for all cases, its easy search interface and the fact that new records are added all the time makes it a good first source. To search for a docket, login into Bloomberg Law and click Litigation & Dockets in the top menu. Then select Search Dockets from the resulting drop down menu.

If you don’t find the record you need in Bloomberg Law, you can also visit the RECAP Archive. This free database collects federal court documents that are gathered by the RECAP browser extension. (You might also consider installing the extension yourself; it is available for both Chrome and Firefox). While the archive does not include all court records, it is growing all the time, so it is a good starting point for items not on PACER or Bloomberg Law.

If you find that the records aren’t available electronically, we have collected information about how to request materials from each of the courts that had items removed from PACER below:

If you are looking for further information on how to find court records and briefs, you can also refer to our research guide on the topic.

852 RARE: Last Chance to View Summer Exhibits!

If you have not had a chance to view the exhibits in the Library’s Caspersen Room, now is the time! Our special copy of the Declaration of Independence, generously lent by Marc (HLS 1984) and Robin Wolpow and family, is on view through Friday August 15. And the last day of our summer exhibit, Spanning the Centuries: an Exhibit of Recent Acquisitions 1579-1868, is Friday August 22. The Caspersen Room is open weekdays 9 to 5. 

Watch this space for news of our fall exhibits, coming soon!