Sophie Ridley’s ‘Accidental Collection’

‘Book collecting is a growing addiction for me,’ writes Sophie Ridley, the first winner of the Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize. Funded by Anthony Davis, the award is offered in honour of author, bibliophile, and book collector Colin Franklin, who shared his love for collecting with Oxford’s students, fostering a new generation of collectors. Sophie’s entry was chosen on the basis of the ‘interest, originality, thoughtfulness and creativity’ of her collection and her persistence as a collector.

Sophie Ridley, winner of the 2013-14 Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize

Sophie Ridley, winner of the 2013-14 Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize

Sophie began collecting books at age 16, hunting through the book corners of charity shops. Sophie writes of the joy of finding a 1911 copy of the Edwardian ‘Girl’s Own Annual’: ‘It had nothing to do with hairdressing, it was the time travelling that excited.’ Though she began with no particular criteria for collection, her interests soon focused, and she began to collect craft-themed books. Her collection currently has two major themes: ‘The first is the collecting of advice and expertise in lost craft skills. The other, the social history of radical change in attitude towards the crafts, spurred by the Arts and Crafts Movement.’

Sophie has donated several books with the balance of the prize. Those already received are:

Donald Gair and Ian D. Stewart, Courses in Handiwork (London: The Grant Educational Co., 1932), and
Handicraft in the School, vol. I (London, Gresham Publishing Co; Printed at the Villafield Press, Glasgow, by Blackie & Son, undated)

A plate from 'Handicraft in the School, vol. I'

A plate from ‘Handicraft in the School, vol. I’

Congratulations to Sophie! Read her essay here:

Crafts and changing attitudes to their value in schools (1870s-1960s)
By Sophie Ridley, Winner of the Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize
Third year Archaeology and Anthropology, St Hugh’s College

The next Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize contest will be announced in October, 2014. Undergraduates or graduate students of the University of Oxford in good standing are eligible.

– from Nora Wilkinson (Harvard University)

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