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Vice little earner: Pocket guide to Victorian London’s brothels up for sale

A SAUCY pocket guide to Victorian London’s secret brothels and prostitutes — disguised as a wallet — has been unearthed and could fetch hundreds of pounds at auction.

The copy of ‘The Man of Pleasure’s Illustrated Pocket-Book for 1850’ provides an eye-opening insight into the the capital’s red light districts during the 19th century.

Disguised: The saucy book resembles a wallet PICTURES: SWNS

It describes, for men with ‘rebellious members’, individual prostitutes using equestrian and seafaring references as a coded language as well as 50 sketches of women.

For example, the salacious book calls Miss Murray, of Foley Place, Oxford Street, ‘a little frigate fit for a king to board’.

Elsewhere Miss Alice Grey is described as being ‘frequently mounted a la militaire’ while Miss Fowler ‘makes the most of her leg’ when stepping into a cab of coach.

The 169-year-old publication, printed in 1850, is expected to sell for between £300-£500 when it goes under the hammer in Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire, on December 12.

Hansons Auctioneers books expert Jim Spencer said: ‘Early erotic publications are extremely sought after with collectors both nationally and internationally.

‘Books like these were published and sold in secret at a time when they would have been regarded as obscene.

‘The fact that this latest find was disguised as a wallet speaks volumes about its content.’

The raunchy guide goes on to describe other prostitutes including Miss A Parks who is noted for her singing when she ‘visits the side-boxes’.

It says: ‘In duets she employs her tongue and voice full as satisfactory as when it emits the shrillest note.

‘She performs her part with admirable skill and dexterity, and in such cases chooses the lowest part’.

Another unnamed woman found at Jessops near Windmill Street is also recommended.

It adds: ‘Her conversation is pleasing, she drinks little, and swears seldom, so that, as time go, she is a very desirable companion.’

Then there is Miss Fowler ‘who when stepping into a cab or coach, she makes the most of her leg.’

It continues: ‘She generally sets fire to all the male passengers, so that you see them fidgeting and adjusting their rebellious members the remainder of the journey.’

Another page describes Miss Alice Grey as ‘frequently mounted a la militaire, and as frequently performs the rites of the love-inspiring queen according to the equestrian order, in which style she is said to afford uncommon delight.’

However, the unknown author also offers a glimmer of romance among the debauchery, writing of Miss Parks:

‘Observe the rapture-giving squeeze,

The glowing cheek, the sparkling eye,

The falt’ring voice, the trembling knees,

That speak in silent words – I die.’

The book also includes a ‘Flash Dictionary’, a guide to London criminal slang, with words and phrases such as ‘clickman toad’ (a nightwatchman), ‘drawing a wiper’ (stealing a handkerchief), ‘fiery snorter’ (a red nose) and ‘potato trap’ (a mouth).

There is also a section entitled, ‘The Health of The Man of Pleasure’ which includes prescriptions and descriptions of sexually transmitted diseases.

A page on ‘gonorrhoea or clap’ advises drinking a pint of water containing linseed and sugar or lemon and also advocates barley water or thin gruel to offset the symptoms.

The guide is expected to smash its estimate after a number of similar publications sold by Hansons Auctioneers proved to be a popular success.

Mr Spencer uncovered a 300-year-old sex manual from 1720 which sold for £3,100 from an estimate of £80-£120.

This was followed by Memoirs Of The Life Of Miss Fanny Hill, The Career Of A Woman Of Pleasure, from 1749, which sold for £360 from an estimate of £40-£60.

Another auction success was Swell’s Night Guide Through The Metropolis from 1841 which made £4,000 from its £800-£1,200 estimate.

He also discovered six volumes of Justine by Marquis de Sade from 1791. Napoleon ordered the destruction of all copies and its rarity saw the price reach £8,000 from a guide of £2,000-£3,000.

Mr Spencer added: ‘I have a knack for unearthing centuries-old erotic literature, so much so my nickname at work is The Laird of Lewd.’