[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Ben Katchor, has ended. Original price: 50 cents. Final price: $42.]
This beautiful, but slightly worn, example of early 20th century porcelain “bookware” was manufactured and distributed free-of-charge along with newly printed copies of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated — a dreary compendium of state laws.
This example, formed in the style of a small, shallow aperitif or snack dish, holds fifty salted peanuts. It was meant to encourage lawyers and public advocates to acquaint themselves with the latest revisions to state law. On one dishful of peanuts, a reader could make his way through several Titles and Chapters of the book.
This example of “bookware” cemented the connection between justice and eating within the professional classes of Maine. Each chapter was keyed to an estimated number of peanuts. The worn edge of the dish is evidence of the late-night reading of an overweight small-town lawyer.
Title 17, Chapter 131: MISCELLANEOUS CRIMES
17 §3951. Abandonment of airtight containers (REPEALED) 15 peanuts
17 §3952. Dangerous knives (REPEALED) 23 peanuts
17 §3953. Disorderly conduct (REPEALED) 8 peanuts
17 §3954. Disturbance of public meetings (REPEALED) 12 peanuts
17 §3955. Dumping rubbish on another’s land (REPEALED) 15 peanuts
17 §3956. Electric fences: 8 peanuts
17 §3957. Failure to report treatment of gunshot wounds (REPEALED): 18 peanuts
17 §3958. False alarms and reports (REPEALED): 9 peanuts
17 §3960. Peeking in nighttime (REPEALED) 34 peanuts
17 §3961. Placing obstructions on traveled road (REPEALED): 15 peanuts
17 §3962. Regulation of radio waves; disturbing reception (REVISED) 8 peanuts
17 §3963. Riding with naked scythe (REPEALED): 17 peanuts
17 §3965. Defacement of state facilities; possession of paint (REPEALED) 7 peanuts
17 §3966. Animals in food stores (REVISED) 12 peanuts
17 §2904. Use of phonographs for profane or obscene language (REPEALED): 45 peanuts
The Maine Revised Statutes are now available online.