Uppsala University officials said the book, which was given to the university by astronomer Petrus Elvius shortly after it was first published in 1687, disappeared from the school's library in the 1960s by means unknown, Swedish News Agency TT reported Monday.
Officials said the book was given back to the school by a U.S. collector who purchased it at a New York auction in 2004 and eventually came to know of the first edition copy's sordid past.
"His compass was very well calibrated; it told him that its home was at the university library in Uppsala," former Uppsala University dean Bo Sundqvist said of the collector.
"This book is of special value to Uppsala. On the plane home I had it packed in a bag inside my hand luggage. I didn't leave it out of my sight from Tuesday evening until we arrived here in Uppsala on Thursday morning," Sundqvist said.