News and analysis
February 17, 2015

Princeton U. Receives $300-Million Rare-Book Bequest

Oil heir William H. Scheide, who built a library at Princeton University to house one of the world's finest collections of rare books and manuscripts, has bequeathed ownership the trove to the New Jersey institution, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The collection, valued at nearly $300-million, includes some of the earliest printed editions of the Bible, Shakespeare folios, a handwritten 1856 Abraham Lincoln speech, and an autographed Beethoven music sketchbook, among numerous other historic items.

Mr. Scheide, a 1936 Princeton graduate and a bibliophile and musicologist, died in November at the age of 100. He paid for construction of the institution’s Scheide Library, which since 1959 has held the collection started by his great-grandfather, William Taylor Scheide, who made his fortune in a 19th-century Pennsylvania oil boom. The books and manuscripts will remain accessible to students, scholars, and the public upon request, a Princeton librarian said.