Skip to main content
Article |
| Collecting

Five Young Women With Prize-Winning Book Collections

The Paris Review, 7th September 2018: In 2017, Honey & Wax Booksellers established an annual prize for American women book collectors, aged 30 years and younger. The idea took shape when Heather O’Donnell and Rebecca Romney, the bookstore’s owners, observed that “the women who regularly buy books from us are less likely to call themselves 'collectors' than the men, even when those women have spent years passionately collecting books."
Published on 11 Sept. 2018
Jessica Jordan

By providing a financial incentive, and a forum in which to celebrate and share their collections, O’Donnell and Romney hope to encourage a new generation of women. As they say, “The act of collecting books is often a private and obsessive pursuit, and that’s part of its appeal, but collecting is also a way to connect with others: to inform those who share your interests, and to inspire those who don’t share them yet. And by rescuing and recontextualizing pieces of the historical record, collectors contribute to a larger conversation across generations.”  This year, one contestant wrote to them: “I already feel more like a real collector just by applying for this prize.”

We are pleased to unveil the winner of the 2018 Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, who will receive a thousand dollars, as well as four honorable mentions, who will each receive two hundred and fifty dollars.

WINNER 2018 - Jessica Jordan: The work of American illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon

Jessica Jordan, 27, is a former bookseller and current graduate student in English at Stanford. She has collected books designed by prolific American illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon. The Dillons’ experience as interracial partners (in life and work) informed their approach to graphic design over five decades. “We decided early in our career that we wanted to represent all races and show people that were rarely seen,” they wrote. Famously versatile and productive, the Dillons collaborated on an untold number of commercial book projects, from pulp science fiction (winning the Hugo Award for Best Artist) to children’s stories (winning the Caldecott Medal, twice) to iconic paperback editions of James Baldwin, Madeleine L’Engle, Chinua Achebe, and Isabel Allende. Jordan notes that

“the Dillons’ work is unsigned on many of their early book covers – meaning that the burden of identification is left solely to my own abilities . . . as I have grown my collection, I have also been training my eye to see what others don’t, and nothing else puts a spring in a book collector’s step quite like that feeling.”

Jordan Collection

Honey & Wax says, “We admired the depth of Jordan’s collection, and the sense of discovery that animates it, especially as it relates to previously uncredited Dillon titles, and to the afterlife of the Dillons’ imagery in the Black Power movement.”

Honourable Mentions were given to:

Margaret Landis and her collection of books by and about pioneering women in science, technology, engineering, and math. 
Miranda Marraccini
Miranda Marraccini and her collection devoted to English comic novelist Barbara Pym (1913-1980)
Michelle Porter
Michelle Porter and her collection of first edition libretti from the Golden Age of the American musical, 1930-1970.
Marielle Stockton for her collection of the writings of Ella Rhoads Higginson (1862-1940), a bestselling early chronicler of the Pacific Northwest.

>> The announcement was first published in The Paris Review and this extract was posted with the permission of Honey & Wax Booksellers - please follow this link to read the full article. 

Why a collecting prize for women? Honey & Wax Booksellers explain:

Donnel RomneyHere at Honey & Wax, we take a particular interest in the evolving role of women in the rare book trade, on both the buying and selling sides. The great American book collector Mary Hyde Eccles, the first woman elected to the Grolier Club, noted that a collector must have three things: resources, education, and freedom. Historically, she observed, “only a few women have had all three, but times are changing!”

We embrace that change. In the interest of encouraging the next generation, we are delighted to award the Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, an annual prize of $1000 for an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman.

The contest is open to women book collectors in the United States, aged 30 or younger. Contestants do not need to be enrolled in a degree program, nor do they require a sponsor.

The winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects. The prize rewards creativity, coherence, and bibliographic rigor.


Heather O'Donnell and Rebecca Romney of Honey & Wax, New York are a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and affiliated to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, ILAB. They can be contacted here and look forward to receiving new entries for the 2019 edition!

  • share