Frontis. & eight finely colored lithographed plates (one folding). 49; 38 folding leaves. Two vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers (covers with the slightest worming), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. Yokohama: Bararo, 1875.
First edition in Japanese of this classic book on sex, reproduction, and contraception. It was the first book based on Western medicine devoted to these subjects to be published in Japan. Enormously popular, it went through many later editions and imitators.
First published in New York in 1859, The Book of Nature; Containing Information for Young People Who Are Thinking of Getting Married offered succinct, matter-of-fact information about conception, gestation, and birth, as well as methods to prevent conception. Ashton’s book stands out for its explicit yet proper language and its reliable information about birth control. Well aware of the sexual politics of reproduction, Ashton noted the different advantages and disadvantages of various methods of birth control for men and women.
The plates were copied from wax anatomical figures in the New York Anatomical Museum. To prevent conception, Ashton counseled withdrawal, douching, the sponge, or the condom, which he thought was slow in catching on since it diminished “the enjoyment of the nuptial act.” He also understood more clearly than most contemporaries the fertile/sterile periods of a woman’s monthly cycle.
The translator, Shigeru Chiba (fl. 1875-79), coined many Japanese words in this book to describe the parts of the reproductive organs.
This is one of the earliest books in Japan to use lithography.
Fine set. Very rare (no doubt copies were read to death).
Item ID: 9417