In Our Booth at PAPERMANIA: Harry Dwight Nims, Attorney at Law

This post was written by Bilal Tajildeen.

Part of the excitement of working at an antiquarian bookshop is the chance to participate in shows. This weekend (January 10th and 11th), Papermania is being held at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut and the John Bale Book Company is once again proudly taking a booth. As a company, we’ve been participating in Papermania for well over 15 years and this year we have some truly exciting material that is coming with us.

This is the legal brief containing the case of General Mills vs The Best Foods. The case in was regard to CheeriOats (known to us today as Cheerios).
This is the legal brief containing the case of General Mills vs The Best Foods. The case was in regard to CheeriOats (known to us today as Cheerios).

One particular item that I find really fascinating is a small archive of collected and bound legal briefs relating to the copyright and trademark cases taken on by 20th century attorney Harry Dwight Nims. These 8 bound volumes of legal briefs from Attorney Nims’s practice provide a representative selection of his work from the 1910s to the early 1950s. The books, comprised of printed and carbon copies of in-house papers, official court documents, and related material, are often extra-illustrated with original evidence and labels used in defense of copyright and trademark court hearings. Hand-written notations, throughout, combined with photocopied and mimeographed advertisements, labels, and articles provide unique insight into the minutiae of copyright and trademark cases of the 20th century.

Harry Dwight Nims, born 1875 in Keene, New Hampshire, was a fiercely influential attorney of the 20th century, particularly in the field of trademark and copyright laws. He was also quite successful in fuel administration— in 1917, he moved to Washington D.C. to assist in legal matters regarding coal and other fuels during the First World War, being appointed to the position of Assistant Fuel Administrator by Dr. Harry

Nims's bound legal briefs are filled with so many interesting ephemera from his cases.
Nims’s bound legal briefs are filled with so many interesting ephemera from his cases.

A. Garfield, Fuel Administrator, on 24 September 1917.

Nims was educated in the public primary and secondary schools in Concord, N.H., and attended Williams College, earning a B.A. in 1898. He worked as a traveling salesman until the fall of 1898 when he moved to New York City and began working as a clerk for the office of Bergen & Dyekman, in Brooklyn. His evenings were spent enrolled at New York University Law School. In 1901, he was admitted to the bar of the state of New York and soon opened his own practice in New York City. In 1905, he became a partner at the firm of Nash & Jones, where he worked for several years.

Nims’ major contribution to the study of law was his first book, The Law of Unfair Competition, the earliest book published in the United States to deal exclusively with unfair competition (“competitors compete on unequal terms, because favorable or disadvantageous conditions are applied to some competitors but not to others” Wiki). In 1915, Nims was given an honorary M.A. by Williams College in recognition of his work on the legal and economic consequences of unfair competition. Nims died in 1968.

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