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The Legal Classics Library

· Legal Classics,Halifax,Fine Book Collecting,Clarence Darrow,American History

Finely produced books were the order of the day from the late nineteenth century through the 1920s. Full leather bindings with gilt embossing, all edges gilt (aeg) and high quality paper were eagerly sought out by collectors. The “private presses” were at their zenith. Then the depression swooped in and the fine books era came to an end. In the late twentieth century there was a bit of a return to the leather-bound, high-quality books by the American Franklin Press and the British Folio Society. The latter published good quality reproductions of literary highlights with the high end produced with full leather bindings, often with the work of modern illustrators. Some collectors focus on either of these publishing houses while others collect author focused collections that include limited, and sometimes signed, versions of previous published works. My J. P. Donleavy collection has several Franklin works.

I was pleasantly surprised earlier this week when I pulled off the shelves of a thrift store a finely produced volume from a new-to-me publisher. When I brought the book home and showed it to Glenda, she said “why do people just give away such beautiful books”. I responded but saying ‘I don’t know why either” while thinking but I’m glad that they do!

This Special Edition of The Story of My Life, by Clarence Darrow together with Darrow’s Plea in His Own Defense to the Jury that Exonerated Him of the Charge of Bribery at Los Angeles, August 1912, has been privately printed for the members of The Legal Classics Library, Birmingham, Alabama, 1988.

A finely produced volume, full leather binding with gilt embossing, four raised bands on the spine, all edges gilt, and a cloth bookmark. A joy to the eye and to the touch with over a dozen illustrations. A bit of research uncovered a rather lengthy series of finely produced books for the lawyer crowd – who else of course.

This book celebrated the life of Clarence Darrow, a legendary lawyer from the early nineteenth century. Here is the description of the book from my online listing:

The Story of My Life was originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1932. The Plea of Clarence Darrow in His Own Defense to the Jury at Los Angeles, August 1912 was originally published by the Golden Press, Los Angeles, 1912. Clarence Seward Darrow (1857 – 1938) was an American lawyer who became famous in the early 20th century for his involvement in the Leopold and Loeb murder trial and the Scopes "Monkey" Trial. He was a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a prominent advocate for Georgist economic reform. Called a "sophisticated country lawyer", Darrow's wit and eloquence made him one of the most prominent attorneys and civil libertarians in the nation. He defended high-profile clients in many famous trials of the early 20th century, including teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks (1924); teacher John T. Scopes in the Scopes "Monkey" Trial (1925), in which he opposed statesman and orator William Jennings Bryan; and Ossian Sweet in a racially charged self-defense case (1926). Today, Clarence Darrow is remembered for his reputation as a fierce trial attorney who, in many cases, championed the cause of the underdog; because of this, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest criminal defense lawyers in American history.

This spectacular volume is bound in full black leather with gold embossing, four raised bands on the spine and all edges gilt. There are mottled endpapers. This volume is in fine condition.

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