Book Collecting Contest

Apr 16, 2009

To foster the love of books and introduce students to the pleasures of book collecting, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sponsors an annual book collecting contest. The competition, co-sponsored by the University Library and The No. 44 Society, includes separate judging and prizes for undergraduate (The Harris Fletcher Book Collecting Award) and graduate student collections (T.W. Baldwin Prize for Book Collecting).

The prize for undergraduate collectors is named for Harris Francis Fletcher (1892-1971), professor of English (1926-62), who collected books and manuscripts that form the John Milton collection at the University of Illinois. It is considered the most comprehensive Milton collection in the country. The graduate prize honors T.W. Baldwin, who put together a remarkable collection of imprints from the age of Shakespeare, with strengths in Elizabethan drama, pedagogy, religion, and social history.

First prize for each category is $1000. Winners are asked to talk about their collections at the May meeting of The No. 44 Society. Winners are also encouraged to use some of their prize money to attend Bibliography Week in New York (generally held in late January), and winners are offered an invitation to a special reception at the country's premier book collecting organization, The Grolier Club. All contestants receive a student membership in the Friends of the University of Illinois Library.

Book collectors are encouraged to enter.  The deadline for submissions is 5:00 p.m. on May 1, 2009.  For more information and entry rules, please visit

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