Library Services


The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize

UCL Special Collections is offering a prize to any student studying for a degree at a University in London for a coherent collection of printed and/or manuscript materials.

About the Prize

The winner will receive £600, an allowance of £300 to purchase a book for UCL Special Collections in collaboration with library staff, and the opportunity to give a face-to-face or online talk on their collection as part of the UCL Special Collections events programme. Circumstances permitting, there will also be the opportunity for the winner to display or exhibit part of their collection within UCL to inspire other collectors and encourage future applicants for this prize.

The prize is generously funded by Mr Anthony Davis, a graduate of London University.

Entries will open on 17 April and will close on 4 June 2023. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to present their collections to a panel with representatives from UCL Special Collections, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, the Bibliographical Society, and collectors on 27 June 2023.

Its purpose

The prize is intended to encourage the collecting of books, printed and manuscript materials by students by recognising a collection formed by a London student at an early stage in their collecting career. All current undergraduates and postgraduates studying for a degree at a London-based University, both part-time and full-time, are eligible to enter for the prize.

Building your collection

The collection must consist of no fewer than eight printed and/or manuscript items reflecting a common theme, which the collector has deliberately assembled as the start of a collection and intends to grow.

We stress that the intention is to encourage collecting and we expect that applicants’ collections will be embryonic, so their size, age and value are irrelevant. What is much more important is the enthusiasm and commitment of the collector, the interest of the theme and the vision of how the collection will be developed.

What is a collection?

One question often asked is, what is a collection? There is no good definition – it is sometimes said that a collection is assembled for its own sake, consisting of a number of items related in some way, by someone who is interested in them as objects, rather than being purely used as tools for research, for example.

Previous winners

To guide you

Our blog post on collecting with intention is a useful starting point when you are thinking of applying.

The prize follows the tradition of similar prizes awarded at universities in the United Kingdom and United States. You may find it helpful to look at the following links to get an idea of the kind of collections other students have built:

How to apply

To apply, please submit the following by email to spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk:

  • A completed application cover sheet.
  • An essay of not more than 500 words explaining the coherence and interest of your collection, and why and how it was assembled.
  • A bibliographical list of the items in your collection.
  • A list of the next five items you realistically hope to add to your collection, with a brief explanation.

Further information

If you have any questions, please contact us at spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk