Erotic reinterpretations of history are nearly as old as history itself, and this wonderful portfolio of coloured engravings from around 1800, originating probably from an Amsterdam publishing house (it was highly risky to produce such a volume in France, where its main market would have been), offers a colourful, witty, and highly sexualised version of the main events of world history up to the time of its publication.

From the Dark Ages (‘Le perdu’), via China, Persia and Venice to recent French and English history, each of the ten plates offers a main scene and three subsidiaries in graphic colour and detail, leaving little to the imagination concerning the main characters of the time.

Unsurprisingly the complete set is now extremely rare, and has only survived when a rich customer thought to bind it into a sturdy set of covers; this set of illustrations is from a much-used and very browned copy in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, remastered to show the colours of the two-hundred-year-old originals.