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Announcing the fifth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize.

Literary Hub

February 17, 2021, 9:30am

Literary Hub is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the fifth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, which awards $1,000 to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman, aged 30 or younger, who lives anywhere in the United States.

According to the guidelines, “the winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, publisher, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. The winning collection will be more than a reading list of favorite texts: it will be a coherent group of printed or manuscript items, creatively put together. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”

The prize, founded in 2017 by Heather O’Donnell of Honey & Wax Booksellers and Rebecca Romney of Type Punch Matrix, seeks to celebrate a type of book collector who has often gone unnoticed. They write: “We observed that the women who regularly bought books from us were less likely to call themselves “collectors” than the men, even when those women had spent years passionately collecting books. And a quick online image search for “book collector” brought up page after page of older men. By creating a platform that celebrates and shares innovative collections created by young women, and providing a financial incentive to those collectors as they work, we aim to encourage a new generation of women collectors.”

Last year’s winner, graduate student Miriam Borden, was recognized for her collection Building a Nation of Little Readers: Twentieth-Century Yiddish Primers and Workbooks for Children. She said: “Book history as a field is very male-dominated, it’s very white, it’s very old-school in many ways, and it was really exciting for me to see a competition that was interested in highlighting the work of younger women who were doing this.”

One more note of encouragement from the founders: “If you’re an aspiring collector, we encourage you to pay attention to the books that fascinate you, even if you’re not yet sure why,” they write. “What do you see that others don’t? If you have a theory about the stories your collection might tell, and the curiosity to find out if you’re right, you’re a real collector in the making. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”

The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2021. See full requirements and apply here, and look out for the announcement of this year’s winner in September. The prize is sponsored this year by Biblio, The Caxton Club, Swann Galleries, and Ellen A. Michelson.

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