The Archives Fine Book Collecting Prize


 The Reader (Clara) by Frederico Faruffini (1865)

Applications now open for Australia's first and only Book Collecting Prize.




The Archives Fine Book Collecting Prize is an occasional prize with a combined value of over $1000 awarded for an outstanding book collection conceived of and built by a young Australian collector. The purpose of the Archives Fine Book Collecting Prize is to unearth and celebrate current book collecting passions and practices among young Australians so that every young and curious collector can play their part in invigorating existing traditions whilst they develop knowledge and build expertise.


Why a prize? 

We believe that in establishing a national prize we can unearth who is collecting, discover what exactly it is they collect, and help celebrate their passion and collecting endeavours.

Book collecting is fun, fascinating, and worthwhile. Over centuries, idiosyncratic and passionate manuscript and print based collecting obsessions have led to new knowledge, new perspectives, to the filling out of social history and movements, and even to shifts in institutional collecting practices. We expect the next generation of collectors will make their own unique contributions to specialised knowledge by following their bliss, and our hope is that they enjoy themselves immensely and develop knowledge and skills as they do it.


Why young people?

The impulse to celebrate young collectors emerges from our desire to see the whole book collecting scene in Australia grow and be invigorated. 

Book collecting is usually a solitary pastime. By establishing the national prize, we hope to introduce young collectors to the existing community for inspiration and information. By exposing young collectors to traditional practices of collection curation and bibliography – by inviting them to book fairs, events, and into associations such as BCSA and BSANZ – they can begin to consciously engage with existing traditions and build expertise as they continue to collect.

In focusing on young collectors, we hope to make it clear that the prize is not being awarded for amassing a collection of great material value. It is true that some books accrue value over time, but we are not in the business of making predictions about this or encouraging others to do so. Instead, we are simply looking to the future, in which we see books and printed material continuing to play an important role and to occupy an important place. We are seeking the curious young Australians who are already hunting and uncovering things they sense may have something interesting or new to tell us about ourselves and our world; and who, by their collecting foci; are preserving books and ephemeral items into the future.

The 2023-24 Prize

The first national book collecting prize has a combined value of more than $1000 and includes:

  • A domestic return air-fare to EITHER the Melbourne Rare Books Fair (July 2024) OR The Sydney Rare Book Fair (October 2024);
  • A $250 voucher to spend at the Fair;
  • A $250 Archives Fine Books Voucher;
  • A one year subscription to the Bibliographic Society of Australia and New Zealand (BSANZ);
  • A two-year membership with The Book Collectors' Society of Australia (BCSA).


Launched as a local prize in 2020 the inaugural Archives Fine Book Collecting Prize was awarded to Ms Emily Porter of Bray Park, Brisbane for her essay A Horse Lover’s Library.

Mr Timothy Roberts ran a close second with his essay Love, Leather and Literature – building a collection of LGBT text resources.

This year we decided to expand the geographical scope of the Prize to be open to all young Australian collectors. To the best of our knowledge this in the first and only Australian Book Collecting Prize.

This year's deadline is December 31 and the prize winning collection will be announced March 2024.

For information on how to apply write to Dawn Albinger


We would like to thank our partners in establishing the Prize:

The Bibliographic Society of Australia and New Zealand                                                The Book Collectors' Society of Australia


Suggested resources (this list is in its infancy and will be added to over time):

CARTER, John. ABC For Book Collectors.  London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon or New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books (any edition you can find).

GASKELL, Philip. New Introduction to Bibliography. Oxford University Press, 1972 (frequently revised).

CURREY, L.W. Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: a bibliography of first printings of their fiction and selected non-fiction. Olathe, KS: RB Publishing 2002.

GASCOIGNE, Bamber. How to identify prints. London: Thames and Hudson, 2004.

LOKER, Chris. One hundred books famous in children's literature. NY: The Grolier Club, 2014.

MUIR, Marcie. A Bibliography of Australian Children's Books. London: Andre Deutsch, 1970 (first edition) or Melbourne University Press, 1992 (3 volumes).

FERGUSON, John A. Bibliography of Australia (7 volumes). Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1941.

WANTRUP, Jonathan.  Australian Rare Books. Sydney: Hordern House, 1987.


Suggested online resources: have a number of great articles on collecting. If you are new to collecting you might want to start with these three:

Another great article by Jim Finck can be found on the Vialibri website:


Terms and Conditions

  • Applicants must be 35 years or younger at December 31, 2023;
  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents and reside within Australia;
  • The winning applicant must be available to travel unaccompanied to either the Melbourne Rare Book Fair (July 2024) or Sydney Rare Book Fair in 2024 (October 2024); 
  • The winner agrees to be profiled together with the winning essay on the Archives Fine Books website and Social Media; to participate in three promotional events during their tenure; and to publicly acknowledge Archives Fine Books in any other promotional activities undertaken as the prize recipient.