Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art

Awarded each year to a students whose collections of books or works of art best reflect the traditions of breadth, coherence, and imagination exemplified by Philip Hofer, the founder and first curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Houghton Library.

About The Hofer Prize

The Philip Hofer prize is awarded each year to a student or students whose collections of books or works of art best reflect the traditions of breadth, coherence, and imagination exemplified by Philip Hofer, A.B.'21, L.H.D. '67. Hofer was the founder and first curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Houghton Library and secretary of the Fogg Art Museum.

Bookplate for Philip Hofer, by Rudolf Ruzicka after a drawing by Holbein.
Bookplate for Philip Hofer, by Rudolf Ruzicka after a drawing by Holbein.

Contest entries are judged on the purpose, consistency, and quality of the collection, and the presentation of the essay and bibliography. The cost and rarity of collection items and the size of the collection are not criteria.

The panel of judges reserves the right to make awards only to contestants whose collections are considered to be of exceptional quality. The first prize brings an award of $3,000, second prize $1,500, and third prize $750.

Winners will also be invited to participate in an awards ceremony in April and to lend representative books or works of art to an exhibition at the library.

The prize, which is to encourage student interest in collecting, was established by Melvin R. Seiden, A.B. '52, L.L.B. '55.

For more information, please contact:

Peter X. Accardo

2019-2020 Entry Rules and Submission Guidelines

  • The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Harvard.
  • To be eligible, collections must have been formed by and be owned by the contestant.
  • Collections may be of any kind in the area of books or art. For example, book collections may focus on authors, subjects, bindings, design, illustration, printing techniques, etc. Art collections may focus on drawings, prints, photographs, painting, sculpture, decorative arts, coins, etc.
  • The judges may ask to examine the entire collection or a representative part of it, and may wish to talk informally with the contestants. For this reason, the custom of making prize submissions under pseudonyms is not observed for this contest.
  • The same collection cannot be submitted in the same year both to this competition and to the Library Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting. However, different collections may be submitted for the two prizes in the same year, or the same collection may be entered for the other prize in a different year.
  • Contest entries are judged on the purpose, consistency, and quality of the collection, and the presentation of the essay and bibliography.
  • Each contestant must submit his or her entry electronically, in PDF format, to Peter X. Accardo, Director of Scholarly and Public Programs.
  • Large files should be divided into smaller parts that can be sent as attachments to a series of email messages. Do not use a dropbox.

Each entry should include:


A completed cover sheet:

An essay of approximately 2,500 words

Describing the scope, contents, and goal of the collection. The essay should include some account of when and how the collection was formed, its size, why the collector chose to collect the materials described, principles for focusing the collection, and plans for the further development of the collection.

An annotated list or bibliography

Of not less than 20 or more than 50 items in the collection, selected to illustrate its nature. If the collection is a book or print collection, bibliographical references are suggested. Photographs of unique or representative items are welcome.

The deadline for 2019-2020 submissions in February 14, 2020. Winners will be notified in March.

Past Hofer Prize Winners

2019 Winners

  • Joint First Prize ($3,000 each): Angela Wheeler (second-year student in the Graduate School of Design), Constructing the City: National Narratives and Cultural Tourism in Tbilisi, 1950–Present, and Luke Kelly (Harvard College Class of ’19), Learning my ABC’s: Carter Collected
  • Second Prize ($1,500): Khin-Kyemon Aung (Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School ’20), Searching for My Identity: Teaching Myself Theravada Buddhism and Folk Traditions from Myanmar.

2018 Winners

  • First Prize ($3,000): Asad Ramzanali (Master in Public Policy candidate, Kennedy School of Government), Maps that Tell the Story of Me and My Ancestors
  • Second Prize ($1,500): Margaret Grace Innes (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Art and Architecture), American Photobooks and Illustrated Print Media of the Interwar Period
  • Third Prize ($750): Ayodeji Ogunnaike (Ph.D. candidate in African and African-American Studies and Religion), African Armaments and Mystical Metals
  • Third Prize ($750): Cengiz Cemaloglu (College Class of 2018), Philosophical Journeys of the Turkic World: From Orkhon Inscriptions to Ben Ney’im

2017 Winner

  • First Prize ($3,000): Gregory Joseph Logan (fourth year student in Architecture, Graduate School of Design), Japanese Architecture and Design, 1868-1970

2016 Winners

  • First Prize ($3,000): Helen Xiao Yang (Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2016), The Lost Works of Dr. John H. Watson
  • Second Prize ($1,500): Christopher Foster (Graduate Student in East Asian Languages and Civilizations), Harry Potter Chinese Forgeries

2015 Winners

  • First Prize ($3,000): Alexander P. Ioffreda (College Class of 2015), Formalists!: Musical Scores of Repressed Soviet Composers
  • Second Prize ($1,500): Oludamini Ogunnaike (PhD candidate, Department of African and African-American Studies), Tactile Rhythms or the Music of Fabric: The Textiles of West Africa
  • Second Prize ($1,500): Wilder Wohns (College Class of 2016), Putting a Place to a Name: How Maps Have Shaped Western Perceptions of Asia
  • Third Prize ($750): Andrew Campana (PhD candidate, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations), Ten Thousand Leaves: Small Press and Self-Published Poetry in Contemporary Tokyo

2014 Winners

  • First prize ($3,000): Benjamin Lee (College, Class of 2017), A History of the 1933 Goudey Baseball Card Set: From Artwork to Copyright Registration
  • Second prize ($1,500): Alexander Ioffreda (College, Class of 2015), Deeds of the People: Soviet Military and Civilian Medals and Documents, 1917-1991
  • Second prize ($1,500): Manuel Lopez Segura (PhD student, Architecture and Urban Planning), Books that Built Democracy

2013 Winners

  • First prize ($2000): Matthew Gin, Between West Germany and the World: Design at the 1972 Munich Olympics
  • Second prize ($1000): Margot Leger, Rediscovering The Classic: South African Literary Magazines of the 1960s
  • Second prize ($1000): Samuel Milner, The Cleveland School: Then and Now
  • Third prize ($500): Martin Greenup, My Wars are laid away in Books: Emily Dickinson in Print
  • Third prize ($500): Matthew Alpert, What is a Computer? What is Consciousness? What is Reality?

2012 Winners

  • First prize ($2000): Carla Martin, ‘Nos Lingua, Nos Kultura, Nos Identidadi’ (‘Our Language, Our Culture, Our Identity’): Books in and about Cape Verdean Creole
  • Second prize ($1000): Amaury Milton Berzin, Coins at the Crossroads: The Evolution of the Greek Numismatic Tradition in Pre-Islamic Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India
  • Second prize ($1000): Alexis Harrison, The Dragon's Jug: A Collection of Illustrations of Reptiles and Amphibians on Bottles
  • Third prize ($500): Alexandra Jumper, Children's Books: Juvenile Stories in My Grown-up Life
  • Third prize ($500): Alexis Agliano Sanborn, A Nostalgic Journey: Women, Nature, and Fantasy through Japanese Prints and Paintings

2011 Winners

  • First prize ($2000): Ross Ford, Traveling Art of the British Empire (1884-1947), a Numismatic (Re) Collection

2010 Winners

  • First prize ($2000): Philipp Penka, Temporary Spiritual Sustenance: The Print Culture of Russian Displaced Persons in Post-War Germany (1945-1951)
  • Second prize ($1000): Rhae Lynn Barnes, The Print Culture of Blackface Minstrelsy
  • Second prize ($1000): Céline LeBoeuf, A Transatlantic Love Affair: A Collection Dedicated to Simone de Beauvoir
  • Third prize ($500): Elizabeth Gish, Feminist Theologies: Precursors. Foundations, and Innovations
  • Third prize ($500):Andrea C. Rutherford, Adventures in ‘Outsider’ Art: Russia, South Africa, India, Germany, France

2009 Winners

  • First prize ($2000): Ilya Leskov, Antique Maps of Paris
  • Second prize ($1000): Matthew Zimmerman, Faulkner, the Fugitives, and their Heirs: Twentieth Century Authors of the Tennessee Valley

2008 Winners

  • First prize ($2000): Philip C. Mead, The Art of War in Revolutionary America
  • Second prize ($1000): Noah M. Silver, Figbash and Wild Things: The Illustrations of Edward St. John Gorey and Maurice Sendak

2007 Winners

  • First place ($2000): Drew Massey, The Visual Muse: Images of Music and Musicians
  • Second place ($1000): Grete Viddal, Devotional Arts of Haitian Vodou

2006 Winners

  • First place ($2000): Michael Hayes Sanchez, Artifacts of the Avant-Garde
  • Second place ($1000): Brendan Ritchie, The Hidden Land of Prester John: A Collection of Ethiopica
  • Third place ($500): Gustavo Turner, Felinology
  • Third place ($500): Michael Canfield, The Elephant in the Living Room: Wild Animals in Stereographic Images 1896-1951

2004 Winner

  • First place ($2000): Stephen W. Stromberg, Russian Political Posters: A Collection

2002 Winners

  • First place ($1000): Katherine K. Olson, Books about Wales and in Welsh
  • Second place ($500): Michael Canfield, Books on the influence and inspiration of entomology
  • Second place ($500): Trevor Cox, American postage stamps
  • Honorable mention: Patrick Hanley, Ecological images

2000 Winners

  • First place ($2000): Diana Williams, Literary and cultural history of race relations in Louisiana
  • Second place ($500): Daniel Adler, Books on the history of evolution
  • Second place ($500): Jason Vigna, Art and art books

1998 Winners

  • First place ($2000): Krassimira Zourkova, Book collecting in the Absence of Books
  • Honorable Mention: Jared Black, My Books and How I Came by Them
  • Honorable Mention: Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Small Library of Books on Tibetan Studies and Asian Religions
  • Honorable Mention: Danielle Elizabeth Sherrod, Performance and Material Art Forms of the African Diaspora

1996 Winners

  • First place ($2000): Brian Koh, Materials relating to the symphonic conductor Carlos Kleiber, Carlos Kleiber and his (Inadequate) Recorded Legacy
  • Second place ($1000): William Pannapacker, Publications relating to Walt Whitman, Walt Whitman and Sexual Dissidence
  • Honorable Mention: Jun S. Song, Books on theoretical physics topics, Life and Book Collecting: Am I bored, or am I boring?
  • Honorable Mention: Kathleen Gallagher, Paintings on paper by rural Nepalese women, Voices at the Margin: Women and Artistic Expression in Rural Nepal

1994 Winners

  • First place ($1000): Juliette Rogers, Antique and Promotional Cookbook Collection
  • First place ($1000): Monica A. Coleman, Story-telling in African American Studies
  • Honorable Mention: Mark Millman, A Collection of Gene Wolfe
  • Honorable Mention: Iain Maclean, Calvin and Calviniana
  • Honorable Mention: Mitchell Rasor, Nature, Culture and the Landscape of Infrastructure

1991 Winners

  • First place ($1000): William Bikales, Modern Literary First Editions
  • First place ($1000): Steven Wardell, Japanese Culture

1988 Winners

  • First place ($1000): William Bikales, Literary Firsts
  • First place ($1000): Adam Weiss, Contemporary Prints and Paintings
  • Honorable Mention: Michael Choi, Ocean Liner Memorabilia under Ephemera
  • Honorable Mention: Robert O’Hara, Natural History