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The John Hay Library has received a gift of 130 rare books and manuscripts, including the first two editions of Nicolaus Copernicus' "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium," from Daniel Siegel '57, the owner of M&S Rare Books, a bookstore in Wayland Square on the East Side.

The donation is the "most significant single group of books given (to Brown) in a decade," said Samuel Streit, director of special collections at the Hay.

The titles donated to the library cover a broad range of topics, including American and European history and philosophical and religious thought. Many are inscribed by their authors or annotated by previous owners, according to a press release from the Hay.

Some of the donation's most important books are about the history of science, Streit said. 

"De Revolutionibus" established the heliocentric theory of the solar system.

Siegel, who has donated books on a wide range of topics to Brown twice before, said he hopes the gift will strengthen the library's collection of scientific materials, adding that he likes "giving (to Brown) in that way."

"Brown is my alma mater and has been in my will since 1964," said Siegel, who hopes his donation will encourage others to contribute.

The Hay receives at least one donation every two weeks, usually from faculty and alums, Streit said. Siegel's donation is notable because it contains works in "all of the important fields of human knowledge," he added.

Siegel donated the materials, which also include a copy of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, to the library in August, but the collection had to be appraised for tax purposes, he said. The process took several months because the titles were very rare and the appraiser found it difficult to ascertain their value, Streit said.

The library waited to publicize the gift until the legal processes had been completed, he added.

Siegel previously donated a manuscript of George Orwell's "1984" and three other rare books, including a first edition of "The Great Gatsby" inscribed to T.S. Eliot by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Siegel — who said he plans to give other rare titles to Brown in the future — became a book dealer and amassed a large collection in the 1960s, when he said it was easy to acquire rare books and manuscripts for very low prices.

As with all titles in the Hay collection, those donated by Siegel will be accessible to the general public, provided they do not leave the library, Streit said.

Though some titles might not currently be accessible because the library has not finished cataloging them, the process should be completed shortly, he added.




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