First edition, one of 100 copies on vergé d’Arches with plates in three states (of a total edition of 500).more...
A biographical study of the famous military transvestite, Ida St-Elme who served as a man in the French Imperial armies. It is based on her autobiography Mémoires d'une contemporaine (1829). This is rather atypical of Carrington’s productions—the quality of typography and illustration far higher than that of his more surreptitious erotic publications..see full details
An extraordinary suite of illustrations to the six censored poems from the Fleurs du mal, darkly erotic and masterfully harnessing the combined effect of etching and aquatint processes.more...
The six plates appear in three states each: an etching (here in proof in two cases), an aquatint/etching and a coloured aquatint/etching. The suite was issued in only some 60 copies and this one is a presentation from the artist, under the pseudonym he adopted for this project, to illustrator and publisher Barthélemy.
The four subjects are: ‘Les Bijoux’, ‘Le Léthé, ‘À celle qui est trop gaie’, ‘Lesbos’, ‘Delphine et Hippolyte’ and ‘L’outre de la volupté’. The V&A catalogue description of the last plate gives a sense of what we are dealing with: ‘A parody of “The Nightmare” by Henri Fuseli, showing a nude woman with a ghoulish skeletal face leaning over and holding the erect penis of a nude man who is lying sprawled backwards over the bed in the pose of the Fuseli painting. In the background a winged demon flies overhead.’.see full details
An early manuscript version of a notorious libelle against the French royal mistress, which had been composed and published in London (1758-9) and suppressed on the instructions of the French government.more...
A vicious satire, highlighting Madame de Pompadour’s humble origins, the Histoire articulates the familiar anxiety over the power and influence of a woman at court. While not overtly pornographic, its theme is the profound immorality surrounding the court of Louis XV.
The author, Marianne-Agnès Pillement, a defrocked nun, is a most interesting figure, publishing several novels in Paris before being forced to flee to London where she made a living as a tutor to the children of the wealthy. The purpose of Histoire de Madame de Pompadour seems to have been blackmail. English, French and German editions appeared in 1758 and 1759 (it is not clear which came first) with London imprints though they may well have been printed abroad (ESTC hazards Leipzig, Holland and the Low Countries as possibilities for the several early editions). French agents in London were charged with the purchase and destruction of copies, though the number of distinct issues and editions suggests the publishers outwitted them. As always with such clandestine works, manuscripts were also a tempting option. Our example contains the full text (with numerous minor variations) together with some additional materials, including a version of Madame Pompadour’s will.
Loosely inserted is a mildly-plausible forgery of a Pompadour autograph letter dated 1749, accompanied by a much later expertise by the Paris autograph dealer Charavay declaring it “fausse”..see full details
First edition, second issue (Londres and La Haye imprint).more...
Intended as the first of a projected series of works with the general title Idées singulières, Le Pornographe is an important early manifesto for the regulation of prostitution. It also holds a significant place in the historical etymology of pornography: meaning literally ‘one who writes about prostitutes’, being the first modern coinage of a word used by the ancient Greeks.
Restif issued the work anonymously, presenting it with a preface claiming that the idea was not a French invention at all but one found in the manuscript of an Englishman by the name of Lewis Moore. In a series of letters, the work presents an anatomy of prostitution, noting its inevitability in cities such as Paris and its dangers to public health and morality. Most interestingly, it then outlines a system of regulations, with well-managed maisons publiques, in which prostitutes are required to stay, where they are protected and cared for and where customers are strictly controlled. A major pre-occupation is the contemporary anxiety over the (wrongly) perceived decline in population, a decline to which prostitution was seen to have contributed. Restif proposes that pregnant prostitutes be required to fulfil their pregnancies and that their children should be brought up and educated within the maisons publiques and to take up alternative professions when of age.
This early work by Restif encapsulates both his social realism his utopian aspirations, both of which became major aspects of his later novels.
The imprint is false and the work was published in Paris by Delalain, who sold the author’s works, but who deleted his own name from the imprint after the first impression. The two issues are identical save for the title-page..see full details
Written in prison and first published in 1783, Mirabeau’s learned but witty treatise on the varieties of sexuality in antiquity was immediately banned and issued in very few copies (traditionally only 14).more...
Later editions continued to provoke the censor and are also rare. In this Paris edition, a near-contemporary reader has inserted notes on the early publication of the text, the opinion that Mirabeau presents ‘des tableaux plus licentieux que ceux de l’Aretin’, and Greek transliterations of chapter headings, with definitions.
Pia’s A-342 conforms to this edition, save for the spelling of the first word of the title. Pia gives ‘Errotika’ as in all previous editions, while ours reads ‘Erotika’. This may therefore be Pia’s error, and may also suggest ours is the first edition to bear the modernised title spelling customary in all later editions..see full details
Liseux was a pioneering figure in the publication of clandestine literature in English, working from Paris, but evidently supplying an English market. His publications were frequently scholarly texts in the history of sexuality and found their way onto the shelves of bibliophiles and collectors of erotica. Not generally been noted, the title here finds an echo the following year with the famous phrase ’The love that dare not speak its name’ in the poem ‘Two Loves’ by Lord Alfred Douglas, published in 1894, later discussed at length in the Wilde trial..see full details
First edition of this extraordinary treatise on the status of eunuchs in society, according to civil and canon law.more...
Largely based on classical sources, history and (most interestingly) anecdotal evidence from the Orient, Ancillon considers the reasons for the phenomenon (including slavery, household, employment or punishment for sexual misdemeanour). The major contention is that while civil law permits a eunuch to marry, canon law should forbid it (as it did) on the grounds that a marriage could not be consummated. Along the way Ancillon recounts numerous anecdotes of famous eunuchs, notably Abelard, castrated at the instigation of Heloise’s family.
The book was later translated into English by Robert Samber as part of Edmund Curll’s Eunuchism display’d (1718).
This copy of Traité des Eunuques is one of at least two issues of the same year with slightly different paginations and title ornaments. The ‘Epitre dedicatoire’ is signed: ‘C. d’Ollincan’ an anagram of the author’s real name..see full details
The limitation notice reads ‘This Edition is issued to Subscribers only and limited to two hundred and fifty copies, numbered and signed by the Author. The price will be doubled after first of March, 1931’. This copy is, however, unsigned and unnumbered. The work forms issue no. 5 of The Lugano Series.
‘From 1920 until 1937 Douglas was settled in Florence... As his fame grew, he became much visited by inter-war writers, and forged close friendships with D. H. Lawrence and Bryher. During these years he lived with the publisher Giuseppe (Pino) Orioli, who helped him publish several limited editions, most of which were later commercially published in London... In 1937 Douglas was forced to flee Florence after the police made enquiries concerning his friendship with a ten-year-old local girl’ (Katherine Mullin in Oxford DNB). .see full details
Three editions had previously been published, the first in 1709, and this popular title went on to be republished numerous times during the eighteenth century. The translators are identified in the text as John Dryden, Nahum Tate and William Congreve. 'The history of love' is by Charles Hopkins and 'The court of love' is a metrical paraphrase by Arthur Maynwaring..see full details
First edition of these scarce selections, in a very pretty contemporary binding.more...
Anacreon (570 - 488 BC) was one of the greatest Greek lyrical poets, particularly noted for his bacchanalian and amatory songs. The enduring popularity of his work rests largely on its universal themes of love, infatuation, disappointment and closely-observed comment on every-day life. Orger gives the original Greek verse, with an English prose translation at the foot of each page, for the benefit of “young students” (see his advertisement). Orger had previously translated Ovid’s Metamorphosis and published a curious horoscope of Napoleon Bonaparte..see full details