Washington, Feb 19 (EFE).- Scholar and bibliophile William Scheide, who passed away in November at the age of 100, has left 2,500 rare printed books and manuscripts worth $300 million to Princeton University, his alma mater.
It is the biggest gift in the history of the university, Princeton University, from where Scheide graduated in 1936, said in a statement Wednesday.
It includes the first six printed editions of the Bible, starting with the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, considered to be the oldest substantial book printed in Europe.
It also includes musical notebooks by Ludwig van Beethoven from the 19th century in his own handwriting, and other manuscripts of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner and Franz Schubert.
Also included are important U.S. historical documents such as an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, a lengthy speech by Abraham Lincoln from 1856 on the problems of slavery, and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's original letter and telegram copy books from the last weeks of the Civil War.
Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber thanked what he called Scheide's eternal dedication to the university and his commitment to sharing his breathtaking collection with scholars and students.
"Through Bill Scheide's generosity, one of the greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today will have a permanent home here," Eisgruber said in a statement.
Scheide's grandfather, William Taylor Scheide, began the collection in 1865 at the age of 18, and his son John Hinsdale Scheide, who graduated from Princeton in 1896, continued the collection and constructed a family library in Titisville.
Scheide continued with the family tradition and added about 50 new manuscripts to the collection, which remained in Titusville until his mother's death in 1959, after which they were transferred to Princeton.
"There are discoveries to be made in every document and volume in the library. This is a scholar's library; its contents were acquired because of their research value," said University Librarian Karin Trainer.