Library Services


Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize open

24 April 2020

If you collect books or manuscripts, then you could win £600 in the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize. This prize aims to support student book collectors at an early stage of their hobby.

Collection of books in the ‘Chalet School’ series

What’s your collection?

Book collecting is a fun hobby that anyone can get involved in, even during the lockdown.

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is judged on the “coherence, interest, originality, thoughtfulness, use and creativity of the collection”. To win you need to show that your collection has a common theme.

Helen Biggs, Outreach and Exhibitions Coordinator, suggests in How to be a student book collector, thinking about what links your collection. It could be subject, author, cover design, or anything.

She writes that some collections are even more narrow, consisting of different editions of exactly the same book, showing the different ways it has been published, marketed and interpreted through the years.

Whatever your collection theme, you can get involved in this hobby during the lockdown. You might be able to look through your collections at home or browse online bookshops.

How to enter

The prize is very easy to enter. All you need to do is write a short piece about your collection, a bibliography and list of the next five items you realistically hope to add it. The deadline is 25 May 2020.

The more creative the theme and the more enthusiastic the essay, the greater chance of winning.

Collections are not judged on the monetary value of books, but the story about how and why they were accrued. 

The winner will get:

  • £600 plus an allowance of £300 to purchase a book for UCL special collections in collaboration with the Head of Rare Books at UCL;
  • an opportunity for the winner to give a talk about the collection as part of the UCL Special Collections events programme;
  • an 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;
  • Winners are entered into the ABA National Book Collecting Prize.

Great opportunity

Alongside the money prize, previous winners have said the prize helped them win places for further study and academic posts at high profile institutions around the world.

Anthony Davis, Sponsor of the prize and University of London graduate, said:

“The history of the book is a history of human knowledge and it is vitally important to continue to encourage people to enjoy books or whole areas of human experience will vanish. We have had some wonderful entries and exceptional winners in London over the years and there have been several who have written subsequently to thank us for the opportunity to talk about their books and for the positive effect winning the prize has had on their careers. It is an extremely moving experience meeting these young people and seeing their collections and enthusiasm grow.”

About the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize

Collection of cook books
For more details and to access the Application Cover Sheet and Procedures and Rules, head to the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize webpage.

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is offered by UCL Special Collections and is open to any student studying for a degree at a London-based university with a themed collection of printed and/or manuscript materials.

Photos supplied by Laurent Cruveillier and Helen Biggs.