Princeton Library Receives Largest Gift in its History

By Zack Laubernds,
Money and Investing Writer

Six of the original printed versions of the Bible, an original print of the Declaration of Independence, a signed music sketch book that belonged to Ludwig van Beethoven and a speech, written and signed by Abraham Lincoln.

What do these things have in common?

They are just a few items included in the 2,500 piece library donation, considered by some as one of the greatest private book collections in the world, Princeton University received this past week.

This donation of 2,500 rare books and manuscripts, was given to the Ivy League University’s library early last week after 1936 graduate, William H. Scheide’s, assets were distributed after his death in November.

The Scheide collection was started by Scheide’s Grandfather William T. Scheide, a Pennsylvania Oil Tycoon, in 1865 and has been housed at Princeton’s Firestone Library since 1959 when Scheide moved the collection from his home in Pennsylvania.

The collection is the only one outside of Europe to include copies of the first four bibles.

The collection even includes a pudding recipe from Emily Dickinson.

It is valued at just over $300 million. This is the largest donation the university has ever received.

Princeton University President, Christopher L. Eisgruber, said “[This donation] 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.”

One of the books in the collection, The Gutenberg Bible, is one of the set of the 48 of the first books printed using movable type.

This book alone is valued at approximately $20 million.

This book and 2,499 others like it have found a permanent home in Princeton’s Firestone library, where those allowed to walk its hallowed halls will be able to use the collection for years to come.

Not only is this a donation of $300 million of goods, but it’s also a donation of knowledge.

The collection is currently being digitalized to increase its access to students and the public.

So whether you’re looking to read up on medieval Christianity or just try out a new recipe, Princeton’s Firestone library is the place to go.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 24th print edition.

Contact Zack at


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