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24th March 2017

Bodleian purchases rare ledgers, revealing purchases of Tolkien and Waugh

The Bodleian Library has purchased the sales ledgers of Ducker & Son shoe shop of Turl Street. Among the notable names of customers is JRR Tolkien, who studied at Exeter College between 1911 and 1915.

The first record of a purchase by Tolkien is 11 October 1913, when the then undergraduate student bought a pair of black leather football boots for 14 shillings and sixpence and spent an extra sixpence on a pair of brown laces. It seems likely that Tolkien approved of the footwear, as he was still buying shoes from Ducker & Son in the 1950s when he was a professor at Merton College.

Other noteworthy names within the 11 ledgers include HH Asquith, who went on to be prime minister, and novelist Evelyn Waugh.

The Bodleian purchased the ledgers earlier this year after Ducker & Son closed in 2016 when its partners could not find anyone to take on the business. A selection of pages from the ledgers will be on display in the Weston Library on 25 and 26 March 2017.

Dr Chris Fletcher, keeper of special collections at the Bodleian library and professorial fellow of Exeter College, said staff were delighted to save a piece of Oxford history. “People will have fun looking at the buying habits of some familiar names, as well as taking a serious look into a sustained historical record of social and business history in Oxford.”

You can read more about the ledgers here. To find out about the display in the Weston Library click here.

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