London — We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2019 ABA National Book Collecting Prize goes to Oxford University student Manon Schutz, for her collection ‘My friends, the early Egyptologists.’
The £1,000 Annual Prize for student book-collectors, sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association was awarded to the winner at the ABA Chelsea Rare Book Fair at Chelsea Town Hall on Friday 1 November. Half of the prize money is for the winner to expand her collection and half is to donate volumes for the University Library.
Although the number of submissions in 2019 was slightly down, the quality of entrants was again high, and prompted much debate. Of particular note this year, was that all five entrants were young female collectors. Manon’s passion for her collection shone through, however. As she noted in her entrance essay:
"Since I was a child, I was fascinated by pyramids, hieroglyphs, and mummies. I felt so attracted to this culture … that I wanted to become an Egyptologist ever since. In my fantasy, I was constantly roaming around the Egyptian desert like a female Indiana Jones in order to locate hidden treasures and change the path of history through my discoveries."
This passion led her to focus her collection upon biographies and auto-biographies of early Egyptologists, together with works by early travellers and collectors driven by the same fascination with the region. Describing it as her own personal ‘Narnia’, Manon perfectly encapsulated what it is to be a collector:
"What, I wondered, would a collection be without the people who pour their heart and soul into it, who lovingly arrange and rearrange the books on the shelves, who rejoice like children when they finally find a long sought-after volume, who feel comfort in seeing, touching, smelling their books, and who treat each book like an old friend, a confidant."
Manon’s collection won against entries from students at Aberdeen: ‘Echoes of the Medieval Far North’ focusing upon books and material inspired by Northern European myths, legends, fairy tales and folklore; London: ‘The ‘Great Man’ theory in British education of the late 19th and 20th century, and Pitt Press Publications’; St Andrews: ‘A century of Photographs, Found in Australia’; and York ‘Head to Toe: Historical Costume from Antiquity to 1930’. All the entries displayed great enthusiasm and passion, and it was again inspiring to see the upcoming generation of young collectors creating unusual collections, with limited means, yet revelling from the thrill of finding hidden treasures.
Preparations for the 2019-20 Collecting Prize is already underway, with the winners from all partaking universities being considered for the ABA National Prize in September 2020.
The Judges are: Deborah Coltham, Brian Lake (booksellers), Ed Potten (independent researcher formerly of Cambridge University Library) and Lisa Baskin, (collector).