Rare book collection worth $300 million donated to Princeton

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Rare Book Collection Worth $300M Donated to Princeton

Princeton University just received some pretty amazing and extremely rare books.

The collection of 2,500 books comes from William H. Scheide, a 1936 Princeton alum. Scheide passed away in November at the age of 100.

The appraised value of the collection Scheide donated to the school is about $300 million. What does a $300 million book collection include?

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Rare book collection worth $300M donated to Princeton
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Rare book collection worth $300 million donated to Princeton
View of an ornate plaque embedded on the south wall of Firestone Library on the Princeton University campus, Princeton, New Jersey, November 23, 2011. The plaque commemorates the construction of the Class of 1877 Biological Laboratory, which was demolished in 1946--the Firestone Library was built on the site. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
View of a sculpture entitled 'Abraham and Isaac; In Memory of May 4, 1970, Kent State University' (by George Segal, 1978) between the Firestone Library and the University Chapel on the Princeton University campus, Princeton, New Jersey, November 1, 2011. The broze work, which depicts a biblical scene, stands as a memorial to anti-war demonstrators who were killed by the National Guard on the Kent State University campus in Kent, Ohio. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
A picture taken on May 29, 2009 in Colmar, northeastern France shows pages of the Gutenberg Bible discovered in a library by a library assistant, who was searching the collection for something else. Experts confirmed the discovery by comparing the extract with a photocopy of the Gutenberg Bible, which was written with the same gothic font and printed by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany in the 15th century. AFP PHOTO JOHANNA LEGUERRE (Photo credit should read JOHANNA LEGUERRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Conor Park, 8, and his sister Ripley Park, 7, look at an original printed version of the Declaration of Independence at the Capitol in Phoenix, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2003. The document will be on display at the Arizona State Capitol Museum through Oct. 12 as part of a national tour that will visit more than 40 cities. The document is one of only 25 remaining copies of the 200 printed on July 4, 1776, by Philadelphia printer John Dunlap by order of the Continental Congress, which had voted in favor of independence from England two days prior.The copy is owned by television producer Norman Lear who bought it at auction in 2000 for a reported $8 million. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Pedestrians walk past a statue of former Princeton University president John Witherspoon near the Firestone Library on the school's campus in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., on Monday, June 21, 2010. Princeton University, the fourth-richest institution of higher education in the U.S., paid more than $10 million last year to its prosperous New Jersey community. Municipal officials and residents say the college, whose land holdings are mostly tax-exempt, should do more as they look to close budget shortfalls. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past a statue of former Princeton University president John Witherspoon near the Firestone Library on the school's campus in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S., on Monday, June 21, 2010. Princeton University, the fourth-richest institution of higher education in the U.S., paid more than $10 million last year to its prosperous New Jersey community. Municipal officials and residents say the college, whose land holdings are mostly tax-exempt, should do more as they look to close budget shortfalls. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
View of a sculpture entitled 'Song of the Vowels' (by Jacques Lipchitz, 1969) between Firestone Library and the chapel on the Princeton University campus, Princeton, New Jersey, November 5, 2011. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
View of a sculpture entitled 'Abraham and Isaac; In Memory of May 4, 1970, Kent State University' (by George Segal, 1978) between the Firestone Library and the University Chapel on the Princeton University campus, Princeton, New Jersey, November 1, 2011. The broze work, which depicts a biblical scene, stands as a memorial to anti-war demonstrators who were killed by the National Guard on the Kent State University campus in Kent, Ohio. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
William H. Scheide opens one of the first four editions of the Bible ever printed, which he has loaned to the Scheide Library at the Firestone Library at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., Monday, June 10, 2002. The rare books are under the ownership of a single collector, Scheide, for the first time in more than 150 years, and together for the first time ever in North America. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
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The collection contains:

- The first six printed editions of the Bible (also known as the Gutenberg Bible)

- The original printing of the Declaration of Independence

- Beethoven's autographed music sketchbook (1815-16)

- Shakespeare's first, second, third and fourth folios

- Autographed music manuscripts from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner

- An autographed speech by Abraham Lincoln from 1856 on the problems of slavery

- Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's original letters and books from the Civil War

The university says the books have been accessible to readers in the school library since 1959, but it was recently donated after his passing.

Scheide's collection started with his grandfather in 1865 and was passed on to his son John Hinsdale Scheide, an oil exec. William Scheide started adding to the collection in 1954. News 12 New Jersey spoke with the librarian of the school's Scheide Library.

"He was so welcoming to scholars so that in a way with a change of the formal ownership, there's no barrier that has to be broken to because there never was a barrier."

For comparison, a copy of just one of the books in that collection, the Gutenberg Bible, sold in 1987 for $4.9 million at auction. It's currently held at Keio University in Japan.

The collection is well worth more than the most expensive book ever sold at auction.

The Bay Psalm Book sold for more than $14 million in November 2013 at a Sotheby's auction. The book was made by Puritans to translate to Psalms when they first arrived in the U.S. It's one of 11 surviving copies of the book.

Princeton will now work on digitizing Scheide's collection and making the works available online. It's the largest gift in the university's history.

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