Old Pommy Porn Book on the Auction Block

Nothing sells like porn sells, and an old Pommy porn book, once banned, is no exception:

A once-banned book on sex and pregnancy from the 18th century is expected to fetch up to ÂŁ400 when it goes on sale in Edinburgh next week.

Aristotle’s Complete Master-Piece is a manual which is thought to have provided information for amateur midwives and young married couples about pregnancy and sex. It is up sale at Edinburgh auction house, Lyon & Turnbull on 9 January, where it is expected to reach up to £400.

Sounds fascinating, but what exactly is in this 18th century book of porn?

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 theMaster-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.”

“There are things which warn parents about what could happen to their children if they sinned whilst conceiving them, perhaps by having sex outside marriage. It would say that your baby would be born all hairy or it would suggest that conjoined twins were the result of the parents’ sins.”

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