- Keywords = curiosa
[ARTUS, Thomas, sieur d’Embry].
Les Hermaphrodites. [L’Isle des Hermaphrodites nouvellement descouverte. Avec les moeurs, loix, coustume & ordonances des habitans d’icelle].
[N.p ?France, N.d. c.
First edition of Artus’s satire on Henri III of France (assassinated in 1589) who was reputedly fond of cross-dressing and whose court was widely criticised… (more)
First edition of Artus’s satire on Henri III of France (assassinated in 1589) who was reputedly fond of cross-dressing and whose court was widely criticised for decadence and immorality.(see full details)
Les Hermaphrodites describes a realm populated by men who dress as women, not strictly (or biologically) hermaphrodite, but preoccupied by dress, hairstyle, makeup, extravagant gesture and speech. Also concerned with the laws and customs of the hermaphrodite kingdom, the satire operates by seeking to present Henri’s court as both dissolute and against nature. In so doing it reflects in great detail contemporary attitudes (both positive and negative) to gender-blurring of any sort, whether social or sexual. At one point, for example, Artus writes ironically that cross-dressing was perfectly permissible: ‘Chacun pourra s’abiller à sa fantasie, pourveu que ce soit bravement, superbement, & sans aucune distinction ny consideration de sa qualité ou faculté’, thus combining his disapproval with a suggestion of the negation of natural order or rank.
The engraved title depicts a figure of ambiguous gender (presumably Henri himself) in male breeches, but full-hipped, with a suggestion of female breasts and a floral coiffe, with the legend ‘A tous accords’. Below it is the text:
‘Je ne suis masle ny femelle
Et sy je suis bien en ceruelle
Le quell des deux je doibs choisir
Mais qu’importe à qui on ressamble
Il vault mieux les avoir ensemble
On en reçoit double Plaisir.’
Henri’s sexuality was the subject of numerous contemporary satires. His taste for cross-dressing was well-known and his sexual orientation a matter of speculation, since he enjoyed close relationships with his male mignons (providing plenty of ammunition for moralistic detractors) but also well-publicised affairs with a succession of mistresses.
The second part of the book is Discours de Jacophile a Limne. Les Hermaphrodites was republished in 1724 with the title Description de l’isle des Hermaphrodites. The first edition is notably rare.
The arms of the contemporary binding are of the Clausse de Marchaumont family, probaby those of courtier Henri (d. 1613), the eldest son of Henry II’s secreatary of state Cosme Clausse, who served as Henry III’s ambassador to the Swiss states.More details Price: £6,000.00
[CUISIN, P., attributed to].
Les Soirées du Palais Royal; recueil d’aventures galantes et délicates, publié par un invalide du Palais Royal.
Paris: [Madame veuve Jeunehomme, rue Hauteville, no. 20, for] Plancher,
First edition, rare, of this collection of racy tales from the Palais Royal, the fabled European capital of libertinism. Framed as a series of initiatory… (more)
First edition, rare, of this collection of racy tales from the Palais Royal, the fabled European capital of libertinism. Framed as a series of initiatory narratives on the perils of loose women and gambling, Les Soirées actually contains several anecdotes of sociological interest. One involves a bragging libertine husband, who claims his wife would never cuckold him, only for the narrator to seduce her and to contrive a fitting punishment for his boasts. He arranges adjoining private rooms in a favourite Palais Royale restaurant, sending the husband to one with a complicit mistress, while he himself takes the libertine’s wife to another. As the couples make love, an opening between the two rooms allows them to see just enough of their neighbours to further inflame their desire. Only on leaving the chamber does the husband realise that it was his wife he has seen in flagrante in the other room, and with his friend. After an understandable outburst, a philosophical discussion ensues on the equivalence of female and male desire and morality (see Counter, The Amorous Restoration: Love, Sex, and Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century France, 2016, p. 137).
The two plates were evidently printed on the same sheet, appearing as a folding frontispiece in some copies.
Anonymous, it is attributed to Cuisin, who specialised in Palais Royale titillation and produced many similar works. The printer, the widow Jeunehomme is an interesting figure, one of a handful of female printers in Paris at this point and a Bonapartist who was later imprisoned for political reasons (Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France, 1470-1870). Worldcat locates copies at Bn (without half-title), BL (with half-title) and Johns Hopkins (also 1815, but ‘Second edition’, perhaps an error, confounding this work with an earlier work with a similar title)(see full details)More details Price: £600.00
[14 coloured erotic cards].
14 rare belle époque cards, including: ‘Au Pompe-Dard — Pumping Fashion’; ‘Position du tireur debout — Standing fashion’; ‘Enviander les Brancards — Between the Shafts’,… (more)
14 rare belle époque cards, including: ‘Au Pompe-Dard — Pumping Fashion’; ‘Position du tireur debout — Standing fashion’; ‘Enviander les Brancards — Between the Shafts’, etc.(see full details)More details Price: £200.00
My Darling and I.
A series of witty and finely executed erotic miniatures, presumably a Paris souvenir made with an anglophone audience in mind, most likely the American servicemen… (more)
A series of witty and finely executed erotic miniatures, presumably a Paris souvenir made with an anglophone audience in mind, most likely the American servicemen in Paris after 1945.(see full details)More details Price: £800.00
The Merry Muses, a choice Collection of favourite Songs gathered from many Sources... to which are added two of his Letters and a Poem—hitherto suppressed—never before reprinted.
‘Privately printed. [not for sale.], 1827’, [but c.
A very rare spurious edition of these erotic and bawdy poems by Burns and his circle, first published in 1799 (of which edition only 2… (more)
A very rare spurious edition of these erotic and bawdy poems by Burns and his circle, first published in 1799 (of which edition only 2 copies are known to survive). The title-page is headed ‘Not for maids, ministers or striplings’. The Roy collection of Robert Burns contains several similar reprints to ours (including our issue) each with differing title-pages giving ‘1827’.
‘Shepherds I have got the clap,(see full details)
Stroking of my Anna;
My time’s filled up, oh sad mishap,
With taking salts and senna.
I for her King’s Place forsook,
Where girls I had past telling;
But now my pipe’s turned to a crook,
My b—, how they’re hanging...’ Roy collection of Robert Burns, p. 141 b.More details Price: £400.00
RESTIF DE LA BRETONNE, Nicolas-Edme.
Le Pornographe, ou Idées d’un honnête-homme sur un projet de réglement pour les prostituées, propre à prévenir les Malheurs qu’occasionne le Publicisme des Femmes: avec des notes historiques et justificatives.
‘Londres, chez Jean Nourse... A La Haye, chez Gosse junior, & Pinet’ [but Paris: Delalain,]
First edition, second issue (Londres and La Haye imprint). Intended as the first of a projected series of works with the general title Idées singulières,… (more)
First edition, second issue (Londres and La Haye imprint). 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 preoccupation 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)More details Price: £1,500.00
Paneros. Some words on aphrodisiacs and the like.
Florence: [Tipografia Giuntina] ‘privately printed for subscribers by G. Orioli, Lungarno Corsini’, [
First edition, privately printed. The limitation notice reads ‘This Edition is issued to Subscribers only and limited to two hundred and fifty copies, numbered and… (more)
First edition, privately printed. 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)More details Price: £75.00