Lawyers in those days collected antique & rare books…other than law books

Ajit Ghosh, the well known lawyer, connoisseur and collector and remembered for his collection of Kalighat Pats, which he parted to the Birlas and the collection named after him, was one such person who depended on Kumar for his research. He studied varied Indian Art subjects ranging from Buddhist manuscript to Indian miniatures. The Smithsonian Institute has published much of his work. Ghosh would just demand that Kumar provide him with the basic materials, not with standing its rarity. He would drop in postcards, with his hand written notes, requisitioning his exact requirements.. Sometimes several of these would land up in the table of Kumar. His famous line was that lawyers do not have the time as they are devoted to the legal fraternity and Kumar should help. Another lawyer Ananda Mukherjee had an enormous collection of books on Indian Art. In fact in those days, senior lawyers collected rare books side by side with their own subject; strangely they would not touch a rare law book, even with a barge pole but would add substantial art books to their collection. Kumar reminisced that he could not persuade Ghosh to add to his collection, a very rare book on jurisprudence written in Hebrew dated 1600, very well bound with metal clamps and brass stud as was the practice then.

A very well known example of this was Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee. Sir Mukherjee completed his study on law and became the Judge of the Calcutta High Court. Later he became a well-known educationalist and accepted the post of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta from 1906 to 1924. He was also responsible for the foundation of the Bengal Technical Institute in 1906 and the Calcutta University College of Science in 1914.Sir Mukherjee had a huge collection of rare books, side by side with his collection of books on law.
He donated more than a Lakh of rare books, from his collection to the National Library in Calcutta. Another major portion of his collection is in the Museum of Calcutta University bearing his name. It is interesting to note that, the famous rare book shop Cambray, who provided Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee with 90% of his books, was originally a Law Book shop which turned into collecting rare and antique books at the behest of Sir Mukherjee.

Images : ALawyer with his junior,WoodBlockPrint.Florence Legum.1780 . Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee . A rare book from Ashutosh Memorial Collection.