Newton's book back in Uppsala University Library

Press release
22 January 2009

In the 1960s Isaac Newton's Principia was stolen from the Uppsala University Library, Carolina Rediviva, and has been circulating in Europe and the U.S. since then. It was recently donated by its American owner to the friendship association American Friends of Uppsala University, which returned the book to Uppsala University today.

The book, the first edition of Isaac Newton's Principia from 1687, belonged to Uppsala astronomy professor Per Elvius from 1698 and was kept at Carolina Rediviva up to the 1960s, when it disappeared from the library in a mysterious theft. A few years later it was sold in Austria, which entailed that the University lost its right of ownership. The book was sold for the final time in 2004 at Christie's auction house in New York, but in December 2008 the buyer chose to donate the book to the newly founded friendship association American Friends of Uppsala University.

"We are delighted to be able to restore the book to Uppsala University and that this story has had such a happy ending," says Bo Sundqvist, president of American Friends of Uppsala University and former vice-chancellor of the University.

"This book has a very special value to Uppsala University. Its original owner, Professor Per Elvius, worked at Uppsala University around the turn of the 18th century, and he was not fully convinced about Newton's theory of gravity. This is a book with a specific University history," says Chief Librarian Ulf Göranson.

Present at today's official presentation were the board of American Friends and invited guests.

The stories of the donation and of Per Elvius were told. The Rausing Professor of History of Science Otto Sibum described Newton's contributions to science, and a number of Newton's other books and letters from the library's collection were on display.

About American Friends of Uppsala University: Founded in 2008 for the purpose of supporting research and preserving the cultural heritage of Uppsala University and the Zorn collections in Mora. American Friends of Uppsala University is organized as a non-profit organization with tax-exempt status under U.S. law. This means that individuals and companies in the U.S. can support Uppsala University with tax-deductible donations to American Friends of Uppsala University, an arrangement that is not possible in Sweden.

Ulf Göranson, chief librarian, Carolina Rediviva, +46 (0)18-471 39 10; Merike
Roneus, head of the Office for Fundraising at Uppsala University, +46 (0)18-471 35 00, cell phone +46 (0)40-425 05 40, ; Bo Sundqvist, president of American friends of Uppsala University, +46 (0)18-471 34 08,

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