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The Story of the Uppsala Copy of Newton’s Principia

In the 1960s, a copy of Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”) was stolen from Carolina Rediviva, the Uppsala University Library. It surfaced again in New York in 2004 at Christie’s. When the eventual buyer was informed of the history of this particular copy, he generously decided to donate it to American Friends of Uppsala University. In 2009, the anonymous donor and American Friends presented the book to Uppsala 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 Professor Ulf Göranson.