Ken’s Korner: Aristotle sex manual set to hit auction block
News and Views from the World of Antiquing and Collecting
By Ken Hall
An early edition of a sex manual printed in the 1760s and titled Aristotle’s Compleat Master-Piece (although there is little, if any, of Aristotle’s work in the text and it’s assumed his name was thrown into the title to add some sense of worthiness to the book) was due to be sold at auction through the British auction house Lyon and Turnbull (the pre-sale estimate was $600). The book was banned in the UK for more than 200 years, although it flourished on the black market and outsold all 18th century medical texts.
Aristotle’s Compleat Master-Piece served as a reference guide for amateur midwives and young married couples. It included dire warnings of what could happen if someone engaged in extramarital sex (hairy babies, Siamese twins). It explained that women should enjoy intercourse in order to conceive, and recommended that both men and women enjoy sex. The book is lavishly illustrated throughout, with images like one showing children with their mouths where their navels should be. The ban was lifted in 1961.