A 1766 copy of “Aristotle’s Complete Master-Piece,” an informative guide for amateur midwives and young married couples about pregnancy and sex that was obviously not written by Aristotle, will come up for auction this week.
It is expected to fetch as much as $640,000 USD at auction.
Despite its notoriety as a sex manual and its status as a banned book in England until 1961, the guide is rather tame by today’s standards. (A book about this 19th-century “it” couple, a man with two penises and woman with two vaginas, is probably more worth your auction shekels.)
So if you’re looking for “30 HOT SEX POSITIONS INVENTED BY THE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS,” you will likely be as disappointed as your lover. Unless you consider this to be pretty damn sexy:
The Telegraph (UK) has more on the once-banned tome:
Despite its title, the manual has little to do with Greek philosophy according to Lyon & Turnbull’s book specialist Cathy Marsden. Instead, the anonymous author of the Master-Piece offers dubious 17th century advice – it was first published in 1684, cobbled together from the works of Nicholas Culpepper, Albertus Magnus and, Marsden says, “a good dose of old wife’s tale”.
This didn’t stop it being hugely popular. There were more editions of the Master-Piece published in the 18th century than any other medical text, and it continued to do well on the black market after it was banned for being considered distasteful and lewd until 1961.
By today’s standards, the manual is more amusing than anything else. Marsden says, “It’s fascinating reading. It tells an amazing story about the changing perspectives on sex. There’s nothing in it that would really be considered dirty in our society now.”
While you won’t be able to learn the Greek Kama Sutra, there are, however, images of “hairy children or children with their mouths where their navels are.” So if you’re into that, get your scratch together and hit the auction.
If you don’t have that kind of wad to blow, feel free to read it here.Smithsonian]