Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs by John Davenport, dated  1869. Printed rather appropriately, in private.


Unlike the last book covered in this column, this one really ‘came’ last week. Every once in a while, the Madras Club library culls its collection of books and sells off whatever has not been borrowed for some time. The sale, open to members, is at very low prices. I got this one for Rs 20. Dr Vijay Sriram and I chanced upon it at the same time. I bought this and he a book on the history of AIDS.

A pencil scribble in the first page indicates that this was priced at Rs 35, probably at a second hand bookshop – Kokil & Co, Oriental Booksellers, 49, Mohammed Ali Road, Bombay. I would put that at sometime in the 1950s. It appears to have been struck down to Rs 25 later and sold to whoever it was who later donated it to the Madras Club, presumably once he/she had no further use for it.

Or maybe the person died and the descendants discovered grandfather’s private hoard of erotica. “Mom! Guess what I found behind Thatha’s bed!  No mom not his will but a collection of books, what looks like a rubber bone and some handcuffs.” Whereupon grandmother rushes in, takes charge and donates the books to the Madras Club library – the last place anyone would think of erotica. Now that is not quite a truthful statement but I will leave it at that.

Be that as it may, I really don’t know why I bought it. But Rs 35 in the 1950s to Rs 20 in 2016 indicates not everything is inflationary. The price for books, particularly this one, is flaccid and drooping.


I cannot say I have read it in full but what little I have is full of interesting stuff- ancient phallic worship, the cult of Priapus, aphrodisiacs and their opposite – the latter I presume to cool down the overheated. I found the sketches most intriguing. I have put out the one which would not bring the mantle of shame to the reader. I don’t want my blog X-rated. There is by the way, a good review of the book here –http://deadmenblogging.blogspot.in/2015/03/summary-of-aphrodisiacs-and-anti.html

John Davenport appears to have dedicated his life to writing on happenings down under and is usually to be expected with such people, lived a long and presumably healthy,life. He lived from 1789 to 1877 as per an online reference.

You may want to read the other books I have covered in this  column:

1. David Goodall’s Views of India

2. Muthiah Bhagavatar’s Sangita Kalpadrumam

The Book That Came Last Week