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Princeton gets rare books donation worth $300M

By
Danielle Haynes
Vivid reds, pinks and greens of the illustrations run alongside the text in the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible, which was produced in Mainz, Germany, in 1455. William H. Scheide donated $300 million worth of rare books and manuscripts, including this Bible, to Princeton University. Photo by Natasha D'Schommer
Vivid reds, pinks and greens of the illustrations run alongside the text in the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible, which was produced in Mainz, Germany, in 1455. William H. Scheide donated $300 million worth of rare books and manuscripts, including this Bible, to Princeton University. Photo by Natasha D'Schommer

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Princeton University received a large collection of rare books and manuscripts to the tune of $300 million, the largest donation the school has ever received.

The collection of 2,500 rare items was donated by William H. Scheide, a 1936 Princeton graduate who died in November at the age of 100. The items in the Scheide Library had been housed at the school's Firestone Library since 1959.

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The collection includes the first six printed editions of the Bible, including the 1455 Gutenberg Bible. It also features the original printing of the Declaration of Independence, Ludwig van Beethoven's autograph on his music sketchbook, Shakespeare's first, second, third and fourth folios, music manuscripts from Johann Sebastian Back and Richard Wagner, and a lengthy autographed speech by Abraham Lincoln.

"Through Bill Scheide's generosity, one of the greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today will have a permanent home here," said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber. "It will stand as a defining collection for Firestone Library and Princeton University. I cannot imagine a more marvelous collection to serve as the heart of our library. We are grateful for Bill Scheide's everlasting dedication to Princeton and his commitment to sharing his breathtaking collection with scholars and students for generations to come."

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"Bill's generosity was legendary," said University Librarian Karin Trainer. "He was likewise generous with his library."

"There are discoveries to be made in every document and volume in the library," she said. "This is a scholar's library; its contents were acquired because of their research value."

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