The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize lies right at the heart of the University of London Society of Bibliophiles. Our founder and president, Kayleigh Betterton, came up with the idea of a group to encourage new collectors after meeting fellow finalists in the Prize, and several of our members, including current committee member Arendse Lund and founding treasurer Daichi Ishikawa, have also benefited from the scheme.
On Monday 3 December, some Bibliophiles members came together to hear a distinguished panel consisting of
Anthony Davis, sponsor of the prize, collector of fine bindings, fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Member of the Grolier Club (amongst other honours).
Lucy Vinten Mattich, co-winner of the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2018, with her collection of household manuals.
Musa Igrek, co-winner of the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2018 and winner of the ABA National Student Book Collecting Prize 2018, with his collection of secretly funded books.
Julie Blake, whose exhibition based on her Rose Award entry of school poetry anthologies will open at Cambridge University Library in January.
Each panellist brought along some of their books that they felt were representative of their area of collecting, and, with mince pies, stollen and wine safely at the other end of the table, there was plenty of time for everyone to look at the materials and discuss them with their owners.
It was an evening that highlighted synergies. Both Anthony and Julie were inspired by their school experience – Anthony having come across some very special books which ultimately led to his interest in find bindings, while Julie benefited from the reading schemes offered through her school, becoming a book owner for the first time, then, in her own words “a loser of books” as she had to sell her early copies and ultimately someone who collected books as an integral part of her PhD which focuses on the history of poetry anthologies in the English GSCE curriculum.
Julie, Musa and Lucy are all collecting in areas in which books can be obtained very cheaply. They are “non-traditional” areas, and as such really inspiring and completely “on-message” for the UoL Bibliophiles, which aims to bring together people collecting any form and genre of books, whether they retail at £30,000 or 30p. All three of them provided examples of how their collecting was part of their academic activity. As a student of Archives and Records Management, it was interesting to see Lucy’s placing of manuscript items such as household accounts alongside her published manuals, while, like Julie, Musa shared how he had found his collection of Cold War propaganda books produced by mainstream British publishers under instruction from the government had challenged and extended some of his pre-existing ideas and was influencing his PhD study.
Finally, of course, all of our panellists were generous in sharing their time, enthusiasm and knowledge with us. The format of the evening was commented upon by attendees, and for next year’s December event, we are intending to hold a “bring and share” event for members to come together before the winter holiday and share some of the things we love – our books and the best bookish company.
UoL Bibliophiles Secretary