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We asked the winners of the 2022 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest about their collections, and learned about the importance of physical media during the Covid pandemic!  


First Prize 

Daria Rose Evdokimova (Harvard University): "Ardis Publishers and the Immigrant Identity."


ABAA: Could you give us a brief description of your collection?


DRE: My collection focuses on the publishing house Ardis Publishers, the first (and only) US-based publishing house which focused on Russian and Soviet literature. More specifically the majority of my collection consists of Ardis editions of works by Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky. Both of these authors were born in Saint Petersburg and eventually immigrated to the US for political reasons. As someone who was exiled from Russia for political reasons as well, I feel a very personal connection to both of these authors. Like them I am also using the acts of reading and writing as attempts to construct a new life in the US. Books printed by Ardis Publishers are a fundamental part of that journey. Frequently immigrants feel that the narratives of their lives become somewhat disjoined, there's a before and after, two islands separated by different languages and cultures. Ardis books were published in the US, by a wife and husband team of American academics, and provided the only outlet for Soviet writers who couldn't be published at home. So for me these books provide the necessary bridge that helps connect two parts of my identity – the sides that in the political context are frequently positioned as adversarial – instead of being disjointed these pieces are now in dialogue with one another. 


What currently has pride of place in your collection?

DRE: A few of my friends gave me a signed edition of poems by Joseph Brodsky for my birthday, which was definitely the best gift I ever received! Due to a confluence of factors – Joseph Brodsky was not widely published in the US during his lifetime while simultaneously being a Nobel Prize laureate – signed editions of his books are extremely hard to come by, so I feel extraordinarily lucky to have it in my collection.  


Second Prize 

Francesca Mancino (Case Western Reserve University): “Reassessing Modernism: Women Writers and Publishers of the Lost Generation.”


ABAA: Could you give us a brief description of your collection?

FM: Broadly speaking, my collection is a hodge-podge of Lost Generation texts. This includes overlooked works, the products of modernist publishers (such as Contact Editions, Shakespeare and Company/Sylvia Beach, and Black Sun Press), and quintessential writings pertaining to Lost Generation figures. My attention, however, is more narrowly focused on the women of the Lost Generation, such as Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Mina Loy, Kay Boyle, and H.D.

I first became interested in the Lost Generation after reading Noel Riley Fitch’s Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation. I remember being taken aback by the names of so many women I had naively never heard of, like Janet Flanner, Mary Butts, and Natalie Barney. From there, I came across Princeton’s Shakespeare and Company Project, which allows users to peruse Beach’s meticulous membership and inventory records. I then began to delve into the books read by the Lost Generation, including the more popular texts, along with those that had low borrowing frequencies, in order to assess readership. It raised a lot of questions, too. What was popular and what is this telling of? How can we better apprehend the canon in looking at the Project’s records? It also became a way to understand and scrutinize what Lost Generation writers, who doubled as members, read. But my favorite writer to explore is Dorothy Richardson, whose Pointed Roofs was the third most-borrowed book (see This is the first installment in her Pilgrimage sequence, and the first novel attributed to containing stream of consciousness narration. 


What currently has pride of place in your collection?

FM: This is a tough question, but I’d have to say a tenth printing of Ulysses signed by Joyce and inscribed by Beach — both dated 1930. (It holds precedence above copy #795 of Ulysses signed only by Joyce, also part of the collection.) In it, Beach wrote, “for Andrée Denham from the publisher of ‘Ulysses’ Sylvia Beach Paris 11.3.1930.” For me, this is telling of her own popularity in conjunction with the partnership between Joyce and Beach. 


Third Prize 

Austin Benson (University of Virginia): “The Little Office[s] of Our Lady, 1599-1966: Online Book Collecting During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”


ABAA: Could you give us a brief description of your collection?

AB: My collection consists of vernacular translations of various minor liturgical offices devoted to the Virgin Mary from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. It is meant to reflect a pillar of lay Catholic piety that bridges the High Medieval devotion to the present day. My decision for the collection to reflect as broad a scope of languages as possible is intended to highlight the universality of this devotional practice.


Why did book collecting feel worthwhile during Covid?

AB: At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to libraries and bookstores was largely restricted. Most of my daily interactions with books as a graduate student, as a result, took place in digital spaces. While I assembled the collection digitally — first out of necessity, and then for thematic coherence — I took no small amount of joy in the intensely physical character of collecting. From feeling the weight of the books in my hand to scouring its pages to write out a collation description to watching the books slowly accumulate on my shelves, the corporeality of collecting counterbalanced the digitization of my daily interaction with books.


What currently has pride of place in your collection?

AB: The highlight of my collection is a volume of the Officium Pentaglotton Beatae Mariae Virginis, published in Naples in 1741. This enterprising text consists of a facing-page translation of the Hours of the Virgin in Latin, Italian, French, Greek, and Hebrew. In addition to its really splendid condition, it shows how the Office was so fundamental to Catholic culture in this period that it could be used by laypeople and clerics to teach themselves Hebrew and Greek. It was a Christmas gift from my wife. 


Essay Prize 

The 2022 NCBCC Essay Prize was won by Elizabeth Propst (Harvard University), for her essay “How Much Am I Bid for the Moon?: Collecting Poetry on the Cheap.” 


The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest is jointly administered by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Grolier Club, and the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress. The Contest prizes are funded by noted collector and philanthropist Susan Tane.