The Protractor and Angle bar in Oxford has seen many famous luminaries pass through its doors in its thirty-five year history. Early on, it was clear that these luminaries were discussing many a deep and insightful topic over their lunchtime and evening pints of beer.
The Protractor and Angle started to provide pens and specially produced beermats that allowed such academics as Steve J Gould, Simon Baron Cohen and Richard Dawkins with a place to jot down ideas that would later go on to change the world.
"The beermats proved quite popular with our high-brow clientèle," said proprietor Geoffrey Alastair-Hansom. "Dawkin's Blind Watchmaker started life on the back of one of our beermats. There was some of it on the front as well."
Even now, academics from the nearby colleges will congregate at lunchtime and discuss quantum physics or qualitative psychology over a pint of dark and a ploughman's lunch.
"Some of the beermats document the start of some very profound ideas," said Alastair-Hansom. "Hawking radiation was first conceived here, not long after we'd had the disabled access ramp put in. Although, it was Hawkins's assistant that wrote that down."
Some of the beermats have been used to record bets between academics, such as the famous bet made between Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, where he wrote down his equation for finding life in the universe and bet the late cosmologist that life would be found off planet earth within a millennia. That bet still has a long time to run, and stands behind glass at the end of the bar.
Naturally, such items of academic interest attract interest from academics. With The Protractor and Angle feeling the pinch during the recession, like every other bar, luminaries past and present have donated their beermats, and they will be put on sale at Sotherby's early next year.
"We hope we can raise enough to refit the bar and pay off our debts," said Alastair-Hansom. With Andrew Wiles's initial thoughts on solving Fermat's last theorem one of the items, this is certain. Although, this is not on one of The Protractor and Angle's beermats, it's on the back of a fag packet.