Princeton University Receives $300M Rare Book Gift, Including the Famed 1455 Gutenberg Bible
PRINCETON, NJ—February 17, 2015—Princeton University received its largest gift in history, a $300 million collection of rare books from philanthropist William Scheide, Bloomberg Business reported.
Scheide, who died in November at the age of 100, has housed his library at the school since 1959.
The collection includes the first six printed editions of the bible, including the famed 1455 Gutenberg Bible, and the first printing of the works of William Shakespeare, called the First, Second, Third and Fourth Folios. In addition, there is an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere's print engraving of the Boston Massacre and autograph music sketchbooks of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Wagner.
“I cannot imagine a more marvelous collection to serve as the heart of our library,” Christopher Eisgruber, president of Princeton, said in a statement on the university's Website. He said the gift is “one of the greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today.”
Scheide's grandfather, also named William, earned his fortune in the Pennsylvania oil boom of the late 19th century and started the collection. It was later bequeathed to the younger Scheide, who graduated from Princeton in 1936 as a history major. Also a musician, the younger Scheide earned a master's in music from Columbia and founded an ensemble of vocal and instrumental musicians known as the Bach Aria Group.
According to Bloomberg Business, Princeton is designing a new space for the collection as part of its Firestone Library. It is also digitizing some of the materials, such as the Gutenberg bible, for availability on its Website.