8vo, pp. , ii, -324, 8 (advertisements); 2 photographic portraits mounted to preliminary leaves with lithographic signatures; occasional spots; a good copy in publisher’s red cloth gilt; dust-stained with a few marks; front free endpaper inscribed by H. Berger.
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In the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, June 18th, 1877: The Queen v. Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant, specially reported.
First edition of a trial for obscenity over birth control. Having established the Freethought Publishing Company in January of the same year, the freethinkers Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant in March 1877 reissued Knowlton’s Fruits of Philosophy, a treatise on birth control published in America in 1832.
Though both were found guilty of obscenity, after a trial in which Besant conducted her own defence, the verdict was subsequently quashed on a technicality.
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An attractive copy of the 1601 edition of Perkins’ Profitable book. Perkins, who died around 1545, had a troubled career – allegedly having his heels ‘turned upward’ in Westminster Hall for being a dishonest attorney and later being imprisoned and banished from Oxford for accusing two local abbots of treason and vice – but he became a ‘household name for generations of law students by reason of his little book on land law, called Perkins’ Profitable Book, which first appeared (in law French) in 1528 under the Latin title Perutilis tractatus magistri Johannis Parkins interioris Templi socii’ (ODNB). The first English translation appeared in 1555 and ran through seventeen editions and reprintings before 1660, with an edition appearing as late as 1827. ‘The English versions are divided into eleven chapters (dealing with grants, deeds, feoffments, exchanges, dower, curtesy, wills, devises, surrenders, reservations, and conditions) and 845 numbered sections. The Profitable Book was intended as a kind of supplement to Littleton’s Tenures ... [It] has a thoughtful jurisprudential preface, is clearly written, and was considered authoritative’ (ibid.).