$ 300 million rare book collection, the biggest gift ever to Princeton


A remarkable collection of rare books worth $ 300 million has been donated to Princeton, the university said on Tuesday. The collection is the biggest gift the university has ever received.

The donation was made by William H. Scheide, a philanthropist who died in November at the age of 100. Scheide graduated from Princeton in 1936.

Scheide inherited his passion for the book collection from his father, John Hinsdale Scheide (Princeton class of 1896), who had inherited it from his father, William Taylor Scheide. Grandfather Scheide began collecting books at the age of 18, in 1865.

At the time of William H. Scheide’s death last year, the collection included a Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s first, second, third, and fourth leaves; the original printing of the Declaration of Independence; George Washington’s “Journal” of 1754, its first print issue; the engraving “Bloody Massacre” by Paul Revere from March 1770; autographed articles by Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant; first accounts of trips to the New World; and autographed musical manuscripts by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Wagner.

Originally, the books were kept in a library in Titusville, Pennsylvania, the hometown of the Scheides. In the 1950s, after the deaths of his mother and father, William H. Scheide transferred the collection to the Scheide Library within the Firestone Library in Princeton, retaining private ownership. The collection has now been donated to Princeton.

“Thanks to the generosity of Bill Scheide, one of the largest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today will have a permanent home here,” Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement. “It will be a defining collection for Firestone Library and Princeton University. “

The Princeton Scheide Library features rugs, furniture, and busts from the original Titusville library.

“This collection is the fulfillment of the dreams of three generations of men from The Book of Scheide,” Scheide’s wife Judy McCartin Scheide said in a statement. “The fact that he permanently resides at Princeton is testament to the joy Bill felt in sharing books, papers, manuscripts, letters, music and posters with others – these were some of his most memorable moments. happier He loved showing people – especially young people who had never seen anything like it before – the collection, allowing them to touch the books and experience what he called “the wow factor”.

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