James David Forbes collecting prize

Enter the James David Forbes collecting prize to be in with a chance of winning £500.

JD Forbes Bookmark forme, typset in reverse

We want to encourage University of St Andrews students to build your own collection of printed, manuscript, or photographic material, so each year University Collections runs a competition to award £500 to the student with the best collection.

The prize is offered in honour of James David Forbes (1809-1868), the eminent scientist and Principal of the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard at St Andrews, whose library was presented to the University in 1929.

If you are a current student at St Andrews, we invite you to enter the competition and tell us about your collection.

Applications for 2023/24 can be submitted from 1 January 2024.
The deadline is 9am, Monday 4 March 2024.

For enquiries about the Prize, please contact Briony Harding bla1@st-andrews.ac.uk

Entry guidelines

The collection must be owned by you, put together by you, and at its core have physical material with writing on it. For example, it may consist of books, magazines, postcards, sheet music, record sleeves, knitting patterns, printed ephemera (advertisements, programmes, menus, etc.), manuscripts, photographic material, or any combination of these, brought together under a common theme. Audiovisual material may be part of the collection, but it must support the core collection, and not form the basis of it. The age, number of items, or monetary value are not important - we want to know what excites you about the items you have collected.

To tell us more about your collection, submit an essay (of no more than 2,500 words), along with an annotated bibliography of your items.

In your essay you should:

  • Tell us why and how it was assembled.
  • Explain what makes your collection interesting.
  • Give a list of five items which you would like to add to your collection, explaining how they would improve it.

Your annotated bibliography could include comments upon:

  • Condition
  • Provenance
  • Variant edition (where relevant)
  • Illustration

To submit your entry, complete this online form.

  • Remember to include your essay and bibliography as attachments along with the form itself. You may also include some photographs as attachments, but this is optional.

Full rules are given in the document below:

Short-listed entrants will be invited to give a brief presentation of their collection to a panel of judges. The final award will be based on the interest, originality, thoughtfulness, and creativity of the collection, and the persistence of the collector.

The prize

  • £500 to spend on building your collection
  • £250 to spend on an item for University Collections
  • Entry to the Antiquarian Booksellers Association's National Book Collecting Prize

If you are looking for inspiration, read about the collections of our former winners.

2023: James Erickson, ‘A collection of Tennysonian Arthuriana

2022: Lakshmi Thiagarajan, ‘A glimpse into the history and practise of South Indian classical dance

2021: Paul Thompson, ‘From Salt to Satan: An introduction to a collection of “lesbian pulp” as cultural items

2019: Antares Wells, ‘A Century of Photographs, Found in Australia

2018: Parker Gordon, ‘Staging and Stories: Twentieth-Century British Pageants

2017: Arthur der Weduwen, ‘The daily literature of the Dutch Golden Age

2016: Jenny Elwin, ‘Halcyon Days: Children's Literature c. 1880 – 1945

2015: Dawn Hollis, ‘High and Distant Places: a travel, exploration, and mountaineering collection