The sale, organised by Hansons Auction, was held on 27 March in Etwall (Derbyshire). The book, estimated at between £80 and £120, finally sold for the amazing sum of £3,100.

Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation. Sold for £3,100 by Hansons Auction. Courtesy Hansons Auction

Published in 1720, the manuscript goes by the title of Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation. The work sets out to be a lengthy compilation of tips and warnings regarding everything to do with sexuality: reproduction, coital positions, genital maintenance advices… From the work’s perspective, man is the centre of everything while woman is regarded as a debauched and wanton sinner.

Obviously, the book was not written by the real Aristotle: the philosopher’s name was commonly adopted as a pseudonym by authors of licentious works in the 18th century. Considered the most scandalous book of its time, the manual was rapidly censored by English authorities… until 1961!

Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation. Sold for £3,100 by Hansons Auction. Courtesy Hansons Auction

Its recent rediscovery and auction appearance quickly drew collectors from all over the world – but the buyer who took the lot home was well and truly present in the auction room. The successful buyer was apparently motivated by the historical and medicinal dimensions of the work.

But the book is definitely also worth a read for its advice, comical at times to say the least… For example, we learn that some women slept with animals to give birth to monsters. Or that future mothers who wish for a daughter should sleep on their left sides (the opposite applies for a boy). Or that men can boost the fertility of their sperm by consuming large quantities of blackbirds... A real gem presenting the wisdom of the era.

Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation. Sold for £3,100 by Hansons Auction. Courtesy Hansons Auction

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