Sex manual from 1720 up for auction in Derbyshire
A sex manual dating back to 1720 is going under the hammer in Derbyshire tomorrow - with bids already coming from around the world.
The book - Aristotle's Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, the First Containing the Secrets of the Generation - has been generating headlines and interest around the globe after the sale was first announced by Hansons Auctioneers.
In addition to several advance bids, four phone lines have been booked by bidders keen to get hold ofthe book.
Published in London 300 years ago, the book has an estimate of £80-£120. But today, (Monday), it currently has a highest online bid of £540.
Jim Spencer, head of the books and manuscripts department at Hansons said: "It's gone crazy.
"The impact of the sale of this book has been phenomenal.
"Our story about the book has appeared in newspapers and on websites across the world including Spain, Mexico, Australia and America. We had stories in the New York Post and Germany's Bild newspaper.
"I started receiving emails every few minutes from people interested in buying the book, including sex therapists.
"People contacted me from all over the world including Russia, Israel, America, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Germany, and of course Britain."
The book is laced with elements of religion, claims of monstrous births due to ‘women lying with beasts’, witchcraft, old wives’ tales and even astrology.
Mr Spencer said: “People were particularly fascinated by the advice it gave to make men more virile. They were urged to eat meat to ‘make the seed abound’. A long list of recommended foods to aid men’s sexual function included eggs, sparrows, blackbirds, gnat snappers, thrushes, partridges, parsnips, young pigeons, ginger and turnips.
“The first edition of this book was published in 1684 and it was as good as banned until the 1960s.
“There were several reasons for that. For example, it includes woodcut illustrations of ‘monsters’ that 'are begot by women's unnatural lying with Beasts' - an example being a woman 'generating with a dog'.
“There are illustrations of beast-like creatures including a man sporting a bushy dog’s tail and a monster being born in Ravenna, Italy, in 1512.
“This is blamed on ‘filthy and corrupt affection’. But you have to bear in mind that this book was written when people were still being burnt for witchcraft in Georgian England.
“It even claims parents’ imaginations produce a child’s features and includes an illustration of a ‘maid all hairy and an infant that was born black by the imagination of the parents’.
“In fact, if women cast their eyes on ill-shaped bodies, ‘the force of imagination’ could produce a child with ‘a hairy lip, wry mouth or great blubber-lips’.
“Instead, during sex woman were urged to ‘earnestly look upon the man and fix her mind upon him.’ Then ‘the child will resemble its father’.
“A century after women first won the right to vote in the UK, this book takes us back to very different times. It talks of man being ‘the wonder of the world, to whom all things are subordinate’. Meanwhile women are painted as being prone to sexual indulgence.”
Advice is also forthcoming to produce a boy or girl. To have a boy, a woman should lie on her right after sex; to have a girl, on her left.
As regards the making of a baby, man’s seed is a ‘divine gift abundantly endued with vital spirit which gives shape and form to the embryo’.
The book even touches on pregnant women’s ‘greedy longings for things that are contrary to nutriments’ such as ‘coals, rubbish, chalk, hob-nails, leather, man’s flesh and horse flesh’.
But man’s ‘divine nature’ is not all-conquering. Errors of marriage include a younger man who, to advance his fortune, marries a woman old enough to be his grandmother.
‘The like may be said when a doting old fellow marries a young virgin in the prime of her youth and vigour, who he vainly tries to please, thereby going to his grave’.