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Shrimpton's Oxford Caricatures


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Thomas Shrimpton & Son published and sold photographic reproductions of commissioned or submitted original caricatures from their premises at 23-4 Broad St., Oxford, from 1868-1901, their shop window display seemingly being their only advertising strategy, there being no evidence of them ever having produced a catalogue or list. The subject matter includes many aspects of University life, notably University and religious personalities, and the trials and tribulations of undergraduate life, plus sports and pastimes. Other subjects frequently covered are ritualism, politics, aestheticism , 'town and gown' confrontations and women, especially allusions to their becoming full members of the University. The caricatures were essentially produced for undergraduates and mainly by undergraduates. Some of the images and allusions are very personal and sometimes unforgiving and cruel. The caricatures or cartoons are invariably humorous, witty and inventive, covering local (University), as well as, national events; many display learned quotations from classical authors or poets, and towards the end of the publishing period, quotations from contemporary plays and Gilbert & Sullivan operettas appear. The names of the caricaturists are given if identifiable.Throughout the publishing history distinct series were produced, notably 'Great Guns of Oxford' (Nos. 1 - [70]) and' Our Public Schools' (Nos.1-27), generally representing an individual in their familiar setting, though always done humorously. The photographic reproductions are mainly in black and white, but there are a few instances where hand colouring has been applied, particularly to images of ritualist priests in their finery. In all there are 1214 images [with minor inaccuracies with foliating the last leaf is recorded as as '1224'], with a few appearing as duplicates. The 7 albums would appear to represent the complete set of caricatures published. This set, together with the one in the John Johnson Collection described under 'Related material', are the only known 'complete sets'. Every attempt has been made to identify individuals (500+), locations and events. Where appropriate, contextual notes have been added and quotations cited. The locations of the (few known) surviving, original caricatures are provided within the catalogue description. Titles in the albums given in ink below caricatures [generally given in square brackets] are those provided by Shrimpton & Son (ex. info. Madan). The albums benefit from additional annotations, notably by George Rodney Scott ('GRS'), Fellow and Dean of Merton College, who was not only a member of the University resident throughout much of the publishing history of the 'Caricatures', but appeared in them himself. In his later years he became an 'extra member of staff' of the Bodleian Library engaged in indexing prints.


  • Creation: 1868-1901


1.05 Linear metres (7 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. G.A. Oxon. 4o 412, fol. 1].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

G.A. Oxon. 4o 412-18

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 15178


Photographic reproductions of original caricatures of Oxford University life, published by Thomas Shrimpton & Son, 1868-1901.

Biographical / Historical

The 7 albums of photographic reproductions of Shrimpton & Son's 'Oxford Caricatures' were the personal property of Falconer Madan (1851-1935), Sub-Librarian at the Bodleian Library, then 'Bodley's Librarian', 1912-19. Thomas Shrimpton (1806-85) and his son Alfred Thomas Shrimpton (1840-1900) were publishers at 23-4 Broad St., Oxford, 1852-1900).

Custodial History

A personal set of albums collected by Falconer Madan.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Falconer Madan, 19 Feb. 1921.

Related Materials

A duplicate set of 7 albums is held in the John Johnson Collection as 'Oxford Caricatures Boxes 1-7'. The arrangement is largely the same as Madan's set, but more precise in the chronological issue of the prints. There is some evidence to suggest that this set is the one orginally held by Thomas Shrimpton and Son, the publisher's, judging by Madan's description of the set which he borrowed in April 1884 and compared with his own set (see G.A. Oxon. 4o 412, notes pasted into Vol. 1). The JJ albums are arranged accordingly: Album 1, items 1-191; Album 2, items 192-374; Album 3, items 375-565; Album 4, items 566-764; Album 5, items 765-960; Album 6, items 961-1160; Album 7 items 1161- [91]. The item numbers are those assigned to the John Johnson prints and in most cases differ slightly from the Madan numbers. The John Johnson numbers are regarded as the 'official' item numbers; they are cited at the end of the online catalogue description in square brackets. The John Johnson Collection also holds two further duplicates of Vol. 1 (items 1-191), as Albums 8-9, each having internal indexes (Album 9 to item 115 only), Album 9, being a squarer volume, seemingly little used and hence very well preserved with clean images. Albums 8-9 would be appear to be from two different, former owners. Original caricatures (from which the photographic reproductions were made) are notably held at MS. Top. Oxon. a. 33, MS. Top. Oxon. a. 78 and MS. Eng. a. 2033. The online catalogue records a few more original caricatures held in public institutions.


  • Harris, Colin 'Shrimpton & Son's 'Oxford Caricatures': a new resource for the study of student life in nineteenth-century Oxford', Bodleian Library Record Vol. 30, Nos. 1-2 (2017), pp. 61-83.
Shrimpton's Oxford Caricatures
Finding aid prepared by Colin Harris
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom