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Tony Fothergill Book Collecting Prize

Sky Duthie's winning book collection, 'Animals in Print c.1700-1900'

The Tony Fothergill Book Collecting Prize, launched in October 2017, is offered annually and is open to all students at the University of York. It is intended to encourage the collecting of books, printed and/or manuscript materials by students of the University by recognising a collection assembled by a student at an early stage in its formation.

We offer this prize in conjunction with Ken Spelman Books and the Friends of the Library and Archives. It is funded by Tony Fothergill (owner of Ken Spelman Books), a graduate of the University of York (1979) and a keen book collector.

In addition to a prize of £500, the winner will receive Membership of the Friends of the Library and Archives, and the opportunity to give a seminar on their winning collection. They will automatically be entered in the Antiquarian Booksellers Association National Book Collecting Prize (see below), alongside the winners of similar competitions at other universities.

All undergraduates and postgraduates of the University, both part-time and full-time, are encouraged to enter. If you have ten or more items, then you are already a collector, and should apply!

How to submit your entry

The deadline for submissions to the 2019 prize is 5pm on Monday 14 January 2019.

Your entry will take the form of an essay describing how your collection illustrates a particular theme or type of material, and how the items were acquired. The essay should explain the significance that the collection has for you, and may indicate how the process of collecting has developed your own ideas of the theme. The essay should include a section describing five items that you would like to add to the collection.

Your essay (no more than 500 words long) should be emailed with a completed cover sheet to Sarah Griffin, Rare Books Librarian, no later than the deadline shown above.

You should also include a bibliographic list of the books in your collection, with brief annotations.

Your entry should be a maximum of 10 A4 sides in all, including the essay and bibliography, but not including the cover sheet.

Judging will take place in March 2019: entrants will be contacted by email shortly after that, and then the result will be announced publicly.

Judging criteria

Judges will take into consideration the interest, originality, thoughtfulness, promise and creativity of the collection and persistence of the collector. 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.It is possible and even encouraged to enter the prize more than once if you are still at the university and still qualify.

Previous winners

2019 - Elizabeth Dunnett

Elizabeth won the prize with her essay "Head to Toe: Historical Costume from Antiquity to 1930", and will take part in the National Book Collecting Prize in September 2019. She said:

"I am thrilled to have won this prize, and am very proud of my collection! My collection represents many years of work and travel, slowly accumulating knowledge and learning how to apply it. To have it recognised in such a way feels extremely rewarding. Winning this prize has not only enabled me to continue building up my collection, but also given me confidence that my passions are worth pursuing. I aim to use this opportunity to share my interests with others and expand my own knowledge further. In the future I hope to build a career in historic fashion, and this experience has strengthened my will to reach that goal."

Elizabeth Dunnett, winner of the 2019 Fothergill Book Collecting Prize, receives her prize from the judging panel in front of a display of books from her collection. The three judges shown are Sarah Griffin, Beth Hume and Pete Biller.

Read more and see photos of Elizabeth's collection:

2018 - Sky Duthie

History PhD student Sky Duthie won the first Fothergill Prize. The theme of his collection is Animals in Print c.1700-1900. He went on to take part in the National Book Collecting Prize in September 2018. He had this to say about the experience of taking part:

"It was an absolute pleasure to be involved in the 2018 Fothergill Book Collecting Prize. Fun and encouraging throughout, it was a great way to engage and enthuse with others about a variety of topics as presented through books in their various roles as literary, intellectual, cultural, artistic, emotional and physical entities; offering a rare opportunity, and a friendly environment, in which to share my own collection and discuss the subjects it illustrates.

Both pre- and post-event, the competition has inspired me to think more widely and critically about the purpose and direction of my collection, making it ever more stimulating, and providing a useful space for reflection and development in preparation for the challenge of the upcoming National Book Collecting Prize in the autumn."

Sky has allowed us to reproduce an excerpt from his essay discussing the process of book collecting, and how this has developed for him:

"The process of collecting has become a preoccupation, and one of my greatest pleasures. I search everywhere possible to find new material, but bookshops and book fairs (York is, of course, a favourite) are the most common sources.

Colleagues have often been intrigued by my collection, and so what began as a largely private endeavour has since become something to share. It was certainly a joy to handle and discuss the books with others, and to see the interest generated, when I put on a small exhibition at an academic conference last year. Indeed, in many ways this perhaps surprisingly communal element has, for me, become the best part of collecting."

ABA National Book Collecting Prize

The winner of our Fothergill Prize will automatically be entered in the Antiquarian Booksellers Association National Book Collecting Prize, along with winners of similar competitions at other universities. Entries are submitted by the end of July, and judging takes place in the second week of September, with the winner announced shortly afterwards.

The prize giving takes place in London, at the Chelsea Rare Book Fair, on the first Friday in November.

The National Winner receives £500, and £500 is also awarded to the winner's Library.