Celebrating Women Book Collectors: The Early Years of the Honey & Wax Prize

Heather O’Donnell and Rebecca Romney
Honey & Wax Booksellers

Friday, May 31st, 2019. 1 pm ET
National Museum of Natural History
Q?rius Theater

In this talk, rare book dealers Heather O’Donnell and Rebecca Romney of Honey & Wax Booksellers share some of the experiences that inspired their annual prize of $1000 for an outstanding book collection built by a woman in the United States, aged 30 or younger. While there have always been a select number of women in the top ranks of American book collectors, the field remains largely dominated by men, both as buyers and sellers. The result of that imbalance has been a predictable series of missed connections. Historically, many booksellers have been slow to recognize and cultivate women collectors, especially when those women approach their chosen subjects from unconventional angles; many women have been hesitant to identify as “book collectors” at all, even when they are building serious and original collections.

In 2017, Heather and Rebecca established the Honey & Wax Prize to draw attention to the range of creative approaches to book collecting currently being practiced by young women in the United States, expanding the popular perception of book collecting from an elite pursuit to a more democratic practice. Their goal is to celebrate women building exceptional collections, and to encourage more women to identify confidently as collectors from a young age. Heather and Rebecca will survey some of their favorite prize submissions, and reflect on what they are learning from a rising generation of women collectors.

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to reserve your seat: https://s.si.edu/2GXMt8T

Please request access services by emailing SILRSVP@si.edu by May 20th, 2019.

About Heather O’Donnell & Rebecca Romney:

Heather O’Donnell started bookselling while she studied English at Columbia, holding down a series of bookish jobs: working the cash register at the Strand, shelving photobooks in the Avery Library, sifting the slush pile at Grand Street. While writing her doctoral dissertation in the Yale English department, Heather worked as a curatorial assistant at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. From 2001 to 2004, she joined the Princeton Society of Fellows, then left academia to pursue the rare book trade fulltime. For seven years, she worked as a bookseller in the New York gallery of Bauman Rare Books. In the fall of 2011, she founded Honey & Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn.

Heather is a member of the Grolier Club, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), and a graduate of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar and Rare Book School. She serves on the ABAA Board of Governors, the faculty of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, and the Vetting Committee of the New York Winter Antiques Show.

Rebecca Romney rebelled against her family of scientists by pursuing a degree in linguistics and classics in college. After teaching English in Japan, Rebecca helped launch the Las Vegas gallery of Bauman Rare Books in 2008, and became manager of the gallery two years later, eventually moving to Philadelphia to manage the central operations of the firm. Since 2011, she has appeared regularly as the rare books specialist on the HISTORY Channel’s hit Pawn Stars. Now settled on the East Coast, Rebecca joined Honey & Wax in the summer of 2016, and published Printer’s Error, an anecdotal history of printed books, with HarperCollins in 2017.

Rebecca is a member of the Grolier Club, the Philobiblon Club, the Baker Street Irregulars, the Washington Book Table, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP), the Bibliographical Society of America (BSA), and the American Printing History Association (APHA). She is a graduate of the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar and Rare Book School. She serves on the Rare Book School Scholarship Committee, the Grolier Club Library Committee, the Membership Working Group of the BSA, and as a board member and liaison to the Merril Collection of Science Fiction for the American Friends of the Toronto Public Library.

About Honey & Wax:

Honey & Wax Booksellers is a Brooklyn-based rare and antiquarian book firm run by Heather O’Donnell and Rebecca Romney. The company was founded in 2011 and is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. In 2017, the firm established the Honey & Wax Prize, an annual award granted for an outstanding book collection built by an American women, aged 30 or younger.

Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect is now on view in the National Museum of American History.

Questions? Contact Erin Rushing, rushinge@si.edu .

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