Mr. Tilden, was a strong supporter of Women's Rights. Even though he never married - and had no children he purposely bequeathed houses and money to the all the women in his family so that they would be able to live out their lives in financial comfort. His namesake and nephew contested the will because he owed great debts...Samuel's sister Mary and her daughter - allowed their names to be added to the lawsuit so that they could give the money back to John Bigelow and other executives so that it could be used as Tilden intended, to build 3 FREE to the public librarys: New York Public Library, Yonkers Library and New Lebanon, NY Library. It was the work of John Bigelow and other Executors that battled in Probate Court and were able to earn enough money from interest on the estate to use for the building. Amazingly enough - John Bigelow, a well known Republican Statesman, Lawyer and Ambassador to France appointed by President Lincoln who lived well into his 90's. Bigelow died shortly after the Grand Opening of the New York Public Library and it is this Author's opinion that he was the kind of loyal friend we all wish we had.

Though not a book collector in the ordinary sense, Mr. Tilden had a very fastidious taste for books, which he indulged without much regard to expense. His library numbered some fifteen thousand volumes. Though the larger part of them were of the class “which gentlemen’s library is complete without,” There were also among them a very considerable number of the most rare and costly publications of the world, now in commerce. He bought books for his immediate use and enjoyment, and apparently with no thought of collection a library that should be complete in any department – always excepting his law library, which was one of the most complete in the country up to the time of his withdrawal from the active practice of his profession.

His illustrated and extra-illustrated books, upon which he lavished money without stint, would add distinction to any private library in this country, perhaps in any other. He was for many years one of the most valuable clients of M. J. W. Bouton and accomplished bibliopole of New York, through whom he purchased the greater part of his more rare and costly works.

Note: I am indebted to Miss Gould for a list of these books and a note accompanying it, which will be found in Appendix C. Mr. Cahill informs me that he read to Mr. Tilden a number of books not noted on Miss Gould’s list, among which he remembers Burn’s’ “Prose Writings,” Irving’s “Life of Washington,” which greatly interested him, and Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” for the style of which he frequently expressed admiration. The titles of some of these acquisitions will give the reader an idea of the value and character of the collection.

The titles of some of these acquisitions will give the reader an idea of the value and character of the collection.

1.Baron Taylor’s “Voyages Pittoresquess et Romantiques dans l’Ancienne France.” The copy is complete and perfect in every respect, and comprised 27 large folio volumes, containing about 5,000 plates executed in lithography after original sketches by the best artists of France. All the great buildings and monuments of the different departments of France are represented here, with details and sections. Much of the text is printed with elaborate ornamental borders adorned with medallion portraits of celebrated personages, arms and armor, figures, views, etc. Baron Taylor, who projected this work, was the man who brought the obelisk of Luxor from Egypt to Paris and erected it on the Place de la Concorde. He was also for many years at the head of the Theatre Francais. The publication was commenced in 1820, and continued through the ensuing years till its completion in 1878. It was issued to subscribers in parts, of which there were in all 1,000, at twelve and a half franc apiece, making the price of the whole 12,500 francs. The complete sets of this work in this country can be counted on one man’s fingers, very few of the original subscribers having outlived the six decades taken for its publication, and but a few of the original subscription sets have ever been offered for sale.
2.Piranesi’s works illustrating the antiquities, monuments, architecture. Etc., of the Romans. This splendid set, comprising 35 volumes. Is bound in 23 large folio volumes, containing nearly a thousand large etched plates. Some of the folding plates open ten feet in length.
3.Gillray’s “Drawing and Caricatures,” nearly if not quite the only complete collection in existence. It comprises a series of 831 caricatures, all original issues and the larger portion in colors, 156 original drawings, 19 miscellaneous engravings, and 4 autographed letters; the whole in 8 folio volumes, sumptuously bound in crimson morocco by Riviere. Upwards of 250 of the subjects have never been catalogued or indexed in any work. The collection was formed by an English gentleman who spent five years in its formation. In 1866 he obtained the collection of Gillray’s belonging to the Marquis of Bath, and subsequently added t it that of Lord Farnham and another private collection. To these three collections were added form time to time, as opportunity offered, many other rare prints. Gillray’s are among the scarcest of autographs. There are four in this collection.
4.Audubon’s “Bird,” the great folio edition. This was bought of Mr. Bouton from the family of one of the original subscribers, in the original parts, unbound. It contains 435 very large copper-plates, colored by hand, including about 1,000 figures of birds, from drawings made by Audubon from nature during many years’ sojourn in the wilds of America. The set was then bound to order for Mr. Tilden in half morocco, uncut edges, and is unquestionable one of the finest copies in existence. The plate depicting the turkey, which Dr. Franklin recommended instead of the eagle as our national emblem, one of the largest in the work, and usually found with half the head cut off, is in this copy perfect.
5.Audubon’s “Quadrupeds,” 3 volumes, folio, also an original subscriber’s copy, and bound to order for Mr. Tilden from the original parts. This is almost equal in rarity to the “Birds.” It consists of 150 very large and beautifully colored engravings, depicting the animals mostly in their natural sizes, male and female, with their very young, prey, and views of their favorite haunts and localities. This collection also contains a copy of the original octavo edition of Audubon’s “Birds,” in seven volumes, together with the three volumes octavo of “Quadrupeds” issued by Audubon in conjunction with Dr. Bachman.
6.The first folio “Shakespeare” (London, 1623,) bound in full red morocco extra by De Coverley.
7.The second folio, “Shakespeare” (London, 1632), also bound in full morocco by De Coverley.
8.A fine copy of the third folio “Shakespeare” (London, 1664), handsomely bound in full red morocco extra by Francis Bedford.
9.A set of Ashbee’s “Facsimiles” of the Shakespeare quartos, traced letter by letter from original copies to ensure accuracy – something which it is asserted has not been altogether secured in the Grigg’s “photolithographic Facsimiles” more recently published. Of this series there were but 50 sets, and of these sets 19 were destroyed, only 31 sets being preserved as satisfactory in every respect. Each copy is certified to by the signatures of E. W. Ashbee and J.O. Halliwell.
10.A copy of Halliwell’s “Shakespeare” in 16 folio volumes, containing in addition to the great playwright’s works the literary sources to which the great dramatist was supposed to be under obligation, each play being accompanied by used literary and antiquarian illustrations, copious philological notes, complete reprints of all novels, tales, or dramas on which it is founded, including many other documents of a strictly illustrative character. There are besides numerous wood engravings and facsimiles. But 150 copies were printed.
11.Purchas’ “Pilgrims,” 5 volumes, folio; a fine tall copy of this old collection of voyages, dated 1625, the best edition, clean and perfect, with a fine impression of the rare frontispiece, and good margins. Mr. Tilden had also previously obtained a copy of the second edition of the first volume of Purchas, printed in 1614.
12.An early copy of Dr. Robertson’s “Historical Works,” large paper, 12 volumes, quarto, in contemporary old red morocco, with a large number of rare old prints inserted, and most of which at this day it would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate. This is one of the earliest specimens of extra illustrations.
13.“Hudibras,” the best edition, edited by Dr. Nash, 3 volumes, quarto, large paper, with Indian proof of the plates, numerous extra plates inserted, substantially bound in full red morocco.
14.A magnificent copy of “Cromwelliana,” the folio volume extended and inlaid to 5 volumes, imperial folio, and about 1,000 extra portraits and engravings inserted, many of which are of extreme rarity, including, among others, an extraordinary assemblage of portraits of Cromwell, of his family, of Charles I., and of James I and James II.
15.A sumptuous copy of Mrs. Bray’s “Life of Thomas Stothard, R.A.” (her father), the little quarto inlaid to folio size and extended to 3 volumes by the insertion of several hundred plates, handsomely bound in full red morocco extra.
16.A copy of Thompson’s “Seasons,” Bentley’s fine edition in large type, imperial folio, with exquisite engravings by Bertolozzi, full green morocco. This copy has a large number of extra plates inserted.
17.A collection of caricatures got together by Horace Walpole, comprising 137 plates of Gillray and others, relating to Walpole and his times, bound in full blue morocco, elephant folio in size.
18.A select collection of humorous caricatures of a miscellaneous character collected by Thomas McLean, comprising several hundred large plates colored by hand; unique. Elephant folio, bound in full morocco.
19.A copy of the first edition of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” small quarto, calf, gilt, London, 1669. It is a perfect copy, with what Lowndes terms a seventh title page. This copy formerly belonged to Blakeway, the historian of Shrewsbury, and bears his autograph.
20.A copy of the third edition (1678) of “Paradise Lost,” bound up with a copy of the first edition of “Paradise Regained.” (1680).
21.A small quarto volume of Milton’s “Plagiarisms,” a highly interesting volume, containing Lauder’s two tracts on Milton’s “Plagiarisms,” 1650 – 51; Dr. Douglass’ “Expo of Lauder,” 1756; Lauder’s “Recantation and Confession” (drawn up by Dr. Johnson), with an original autograph letter of Lauder to Dr. Mead (never published), two original autograph letters of Salmasius, portraits, etc. The volume came from the library of Mr. Dillon. An account of this controversy is to be found in Boswell’s “Johnson.”
22.The Milton “Memorial,” consisting of a collection of early tracts, proof portraits of Milton, with autograph letters of his various editions. Etc.
23.An elaborately illustrated copy of Keysler’s “Travels through Germany,” etc., the 4 volumes, quarto, extended to 8 thick volumes, royal folio, 2,000 rare and curious plates, portraits, views, maps, etc., and bound in half Russia, uncut edges.
24.A superb set of the Abbotsford edition of the Waverley novels, the 12 royal octavo volumes extended to 44 by the insertion of several thousand find plates illustrative of these works, and several autograph letters of Scott, Lockhart, and other contemporary notabilities. The copy was illustrated by a gentleman of wealth and taste for his own amusement, and occupied his leisure hours for many years. Sudden business reverses forced him to sell, and Mr. Bouton became its purchaser. From him it passed into Mr. Tilden’s collection. The set is probably the richest and finest ever made. The 44 volumes are handsomely bound in dark-blue crushed levant morocco, elegantly tooled, by Mathews.
25.The Boydell edition of Milton’s works, 3 volumes, folio, extended to 8 volumes by the addition of several thousand engravings, handsomely bound in morocco extra by R. W. Smith. This set is without doubt the most elaborately extra-illustrated copy of Milton’s works in the world.
26.Doran’s “Annals of the Stage,” a larger-paper copy of Middleton’s handsome edition in 2 volumes, imperial octavo, extended to 4 volumes by the addition of portraits of celebrated actors and actresses. The volumes are handsomely bound in dark-blue morocco by Mathews.
27.Moore’s “Life Letters, and Journals of Lord Byron,” 2 volumes, quarto, extended to 4 by the insertion of choice plates.
28.Boswell’s “Johnson,” Murray’s royal octavo edition, extended to 6 volumes by the addition of a profusion of beautiful engravings illustrating the life and time of famous lexicographer.
29.“Walpoliana,” in 5 volumes, folio, bound in half red morocco, with a large number of portraits, views, facsimiles, etc., relating to Horace Walpole and his contemporaries.
30.The old quarto edition of “Hudibras,” edited by Dr. Nash, of which but 200 copies were printed, extended from 3 to 6 volumes by the addition of a host of fine engravings extracted from other editions.
31.Duyckinck’s “Cyclopædia of American Literature,” the large-paper edition printed on a hand press by William Alvord, with special view to the needs of extra illustrators, and increased in thickness as much again by the insertion of portraits, view, etc., of celebrated authors, and localities connected with them.
32.The New Testament (in French), issued by Hachette & Co., of Paris, illustrated by a series of beautiful etchings done by Bida after sketches made by himself in the Holy Land, in 2 volumes folio.
33.“Musée Napoleon,” in 11 volumes, quarto, a large-paper copy, with proofs before letters, with the scarce supplementary volume, which is uniform in size, and not inlaid as is usually the case. This fine work is the only one containing reproductions of all the pictures selected and appropriated by Napoleon from the principal art galleries of Europe, and transferred to Paris, where they were engraved by his command.
34.Layard’s “Monuments of Nineveh,” comprising 170 large and curious outlines, tinted plates, on large paper, both series, in 2 imperial folio volumes, bound in half morocco.
35.“Il Vaticano, by Pistolesi, 8 volumes, large folio, containing over 800 fine outline engravings.
36.“Rejected Addresses,” fourth edition, inlaid, folio size, and extra illustrated, and bound in maroon morocco.
37.Mathias’ “Pursuits of Literature,” 1812, a copy on largest paper, with about 100 fine portraits of celebrities inserted, folio, half morocco.
38.Ticknor’s “Life of Prescott,” quarto, 1866, large paper, extended to 3 volumes by the addition of engravings.
39.Parton’s “Life of Franklin,” 2 volumes, imperial octavo, large paper, extended to 4 by the insertion of plates, bound in green morocco.
40.Hogarth’s “Engravings,” in 3 volumes, folio, containing a fine early impression of the plates.
41.A choice collection of “Cruikshankiana,” formed by a friend of Cruikshank who enjoyed unusual opportunities for collecting in this line. It forms 6 volumes, folio, bound in morocco.
42.A large-paper copy of a beautiful edition of “Don Quixote,” printed throughout on Whatman paper, with etchings by Lalauze, in three states, of which but 50 copies were printed, published by William Patterson, of Edinburgh, in 1879. This is the handsomest edition of this celebrated book yet published.
43.Charles Le Blanc’s “Catalogue of Rembrandt’s Etchings,” last edition; on eo fthe 20 copies printed on Whatman paper, with the plates in three states.
44.Maximilian’s “Travels in the Interior of North America,” a folio volume, containing 80 fine tinted plates after original drawings, with a quarto volume of text in English.
45.A proof edition of “L’Art, printed on Holland paper, with duplicate proofs on Japanese paper, from its commencement in 1875, the etchings being of the best French artists. There were 4 volumes to the year, folio size, each year containing 52 full-page etchings. Thanks to Mr. Bouton, Mr. Tilden was one of the early subscribers to this precious publication.
46.A proof copy of the “Musée Francaise,” in 5 volumes, folio, with about 400 fine, large copper-plate engravings of the masterpieces of the great painters, the finest collection of pictures ever got together; a presentation copy to one of Napoleon’s marshals.
47.The “Musée Borbonico,” in 16 quarto volumes, containing about 1,000 beautiful engravings of ancient art unearthed at Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc.
48.“Dramatic Biographies,” 24 volumes, octavo, with numerous plates inserted.
49.“Oratory and Gesture,” by J. Sheridan Knowles, privately printed for the late James McHenry, by whom it was presented to Mr. Tilden. It is an imperial quarto, bound in red crimped morocco by Riviere. The date is 1873.
50.“Actors and Actresses,” a magnificent volume, enriched with the choicest portraits in the finest possible state, nearly all open-letter of India-proof impressions, collected, without regard to expense, by Sir Charles Price. The volume is superbly bound in full morocco by Riviere. The date is 1873.
51.The Pilkington’s “Dictionary of Engravers,” old edition, 805, a unique copy, copiously illustrated with many hundred fine and rare prints, etchings, original drawings, etc., bound in pale old Russia, the 2 volumes, quarto, extended to 4.
52.A remarkable collection of books of scenery, 33 volumes, quarto, 1816 – 1835, issued in parts by subscription, illustrated with fine engravings on steel.
53.A large-paper copy of Lodge’s “Portraits,” 12 volumes bound in 6, quarto, India proofs of the portraits, bound in full morocco.
54.Pickering’s beautiful edition of “Isaac Walton,” 1836, edited by Sir Harris Nicholas, with fine steel engravings, India-proof copy; also a copy of Zouch’s “Life of Walton,” 1823, large paper, with some extra plates inserted mostly India proof, quarto, bound in green morocco extra Châselin.
55.A remarkable collection of works on “Folk Lore,” 46 volumes in all, including many works now rare.
56.Speeches of celebrated parliamentary orators, in all 49 volumes.
57.Jesse’s works, in 23 volumes, handsomely bound in tree calf.
58.The works of Charles Dickens, printed at the Riverside press, large paper, the handsomest edition ever printed in this country.
59.Large-paper copies of Massinger’s “Dramatic Works,” in 4 volumes, 1813; of Middleton’s “Dramatic Work’s, in 5 volumes, 1840; and of Ford’s “Dramatic Works,” in 3 volumes, 1869.
60.Owen Jones’ “Grammar of Ornament,” the fine folio edition of 1856, containing 100 superb colored plates.
61.A large-paper set of the “Galerie de Versailles,” in 19 imperial folio volumes, illustrating the history of France to the time of Louis Philippe.
62.The “Florence Gallery,” 4 volumes, folio, 1739; proofs before letters of the superb plates.
63.The “Galerie du Palais Royal,” 3 volumes, folio, half morocco containing 355 copper-plate engravings of the pictures of the celebrated collection of the Duke of Orleans.
64.A colored copy of the “Stafford Gallery,” 4 volumes, imperial folio, bound in full red morocco.
65.Finden’s “Royal Gallery,” India proofs of the plates, folio, full morocco.
66.A large-paper copy of the “Turner Gallery,” containing 60 exquisite engravings on steel of the masterpiece of England’s greatest painter.
67.A proof copy of the “Logia of Raphael,” imperial folio, Meulomester, half red morocco.
68.“Tableaux Historiques,” original issue, 3 volumes, royal folio, red morocco.
69.One volume of the personal-expense accounts of President Jefferson, a detailed description of which appeared in the “Century Magazine” a few years prior to Mr. Tilden’s death.

Samuel Tilden's Rare Book Collection
Recharted in new Revision of, "The Life of Samuel J. Tilden Vol. 2