NL 2004/05

‚Atlas of sexuality for adults’ (1971) by Günther Hunold/Beate Uhse, stem pessaries together with an implementation device ('Uterector'), Restellism





Dear friends of the planned Museum for Contraception and Abortion,


A generous donor has given us a copy of Günther Hunold's 'Sexual-Atlas für Erwachsene' (Atlas of sexuality for adults) from the year 1971. It was the first of its kind as prior to this date a publication like this would have been treated as (illegal) pornography. The editor was Beate Uhse (1919 - 2001), a famous exponent of sexual liberation, and she explained: "Each aspect of sexuality should be presented with expertise and competence, in a way that is both comprehensible and uninfluenced by taboos. I didn't want to have a deadpan reference book written in difficult wording. Instead I wanted to use modern writing that would be understood by everybody....

... It seemed very important to explain each subject not only in words but using pictures as well instead of using drawings as other books do....Most of our pictures could not be published before."


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Another novelty is a black cassette containing stem pessaries together with an implementation device ('Uterector') originating from Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century: A thick metallic helix measuring approximately 2,2 inches in length mounted in the centre of a tiny metallic disc. Such pessaries were used till approximately 1930 and were thought to close the cervix and so prevent the passage of sperm. Quite the contrary! Not only doubtful in their effectiveness they were painful as well and often led to severe infections which could end fatally as there were no antibiotics to treat inflammation.


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In our previous newsletter we proudly informed you about the acquisition of A.M. Mauriceau's book 'The Married Woman's Private Medical Companion' published in 1847. A reader has informed us that the author's name was a pseudonym of Charles and Anna Lohmann (1812-1877). Using the name of Francois Mauriceau (1637 - 1709), an obstetrician at the french court, who commanded the women to lie in bed while giving birth, they've called themselves Dr. Mauriceau and Madame Restell.


Their best-selling book can be understood as advertisement for their enterprise: They ran a lucrative mail-order business and abortion service in New York City from the 1840s through the 1870s. Their enterprise flourished; they soon opened branch offices in Boston and Philadelphia and moved into a lavish mansion on Fifth Avenue. In 1878 Madame Restell was arrested and could not buy her freedom as she had in previous cases. The night before she was due to be tried she killed herself by cutting her own throat. She was so well known that the practise of abortion was sometimes referred to as 'Restellism'.


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