A rare copy of a bizarre 18th century sex manual is up for auction in the UK, after it was banned from publication for almost 250 years.
The volume, entitled ‘Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed In Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation’, includes everything from fertility tips to romantic advice for lovers.
The book, which is packed with strange wood-carvings, old wives’ tales, astrology and just a hint of black magic, was published in 1720, and goes up for sale at Hanson’s Auctioneers in Derbyshire next month.
For men hoping to become fathers, it suggests that a diet including sparrows, blackbirds, gnat snappers, thrushes, partridges, parsnips, young pigeons, ginger and turnips will "make the seed abound".
It states that "the fittest time for the procreation of male children is when the sun is in Leo and moon in Virgo, Scorpio or Sagittarius … to begat a female the best time is when the Moon is in the wane, in Libra or Aquarius".
The book also contains some sinister warnings that were the likely cause of the 250-year-old ban.
"The first edition of this book was published in 1684 and it was as good as banned until the 1960s," said Jim Spencer, books and manuscripts valuer at Hansons.
"There were several reasons for that. For example, it includes woodcut illustrations of ‘monsters’ that ‘are begot by Women’s unnatural lying with Beasts’.
"There are several 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.
"The book 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."
However, away from terrifying hairy monster babies the volume also features some slightly more romantic ideas, and states:
"Without doubt, the uniting of hearts in holy wedlock is of all conditions the happiest, for then a man has a second self to whom he can unravel his thoughts as well as a sweet companion in his labour’."
Under the heading "A Word of Advice to both Sexes in the Act of Copulation", the author writes: "I do advise, before they begin their conjugal embraces to invigorate their mutual desires and make their flames burn with a fiercer ardour by those endearing ways that love can better teach than I can write.
"And when they have done what nature can require, a man must have a care he does not part too soon from the embraces of his wife".