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1845 1st Edition Frederick Hollick : The Origin of Life

  • Item: BK1001
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Frederick Hollick's 'The Origin of Life: A Popular Treatise on the Philosophy and Physiology of Reproduction' was essentially the first sex education book in America for the general public. It describes plant and animal reproduction, but most text is devoted to human reproduction and sexuality. It includes detailed anatomical descriptions, but also includes some unusual prevailing notions, like a detailed explanation as to why masturbation causes death. Hollick's book, lectures, and use of anatomically correct models before mixed audiences were sensational for the time.

This appears to be the first edition. It was published in New York by Nafis & Cornish. This hardcover has a 23 page preface, 233 pages in main body, a 57 page addenda, and 10 illustrations. All the drawing plates (lightly hand colored), save one picture of a flower, relate to humans. The book measures 3 1/4 inches x 5 1/4 inches. The front plate shows Hollick next to his anatomically correct female model (based on a daguerreotype from his lectures). This front plate is different than in later editions.

The cover is damaged, with rips, missing chunks, the fabric is brittle, and the binding is weak, but the inside pages (a good quality rag paper) are intact and remain sewn together. The pages have evidence of water stains and foxing, have some dog-eared pages, and some are a bit wavy.

Despite the fair condition, this is a rare antebellum text with entertaining insights into the views of sex and reproduction 160 years ago.

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