The introductory pages of the 1720 book titled, ‘Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed in Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation’, which sold for £3100 at Hansons’ yesterday.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Aristotle’s Master-piece Completed in Two Parts, The first Containing the Secrets of Generation dates to 1720. First published in 1684, the volume contains passages on religion, bestiality, witchcraft, old wives’ tales and astrology. It was offered at Hansons.

Estimated at £80-120, the manual attracted more than 20 advance bids and five phone bidders on the day. Eventually, however, it was knocked down for £3100 to a private British buyer in the room. The buyer, who remains anonymous, said the attraction was its coverage of pre-modern medicine.

“It will go in my safe at home and it will stay in Britain, but I’ll be very happy to loan it to universities, libraries, academics or anyone who is interested in seeing it,” the buyer added.

Jim Spencer, head of the books and manuscripts department at Hansons’, said: “People were particularly fascinated by the advice it gave to make men more virile. They were urged to eat meat to ‘make the seed abound’. A long list of recommended foods to aid men’s sexual function included eggs, sparrows, blackbirds, gnat snappers, thrushes, partridges, parsnips, young pigeons, ginger and turnips.”

The book includes illustrations of beast-like creatures, the results of sexually deviant behaviour and claims that children’s features were the results of the parents’ imagination. Women are advised to lie on their right after sex to have a boy, on her left to have a girl.