The Glass Harmonica XXXtras Edition:
Such Were My Temptations

American Antiquarian Society

The image, "Such were my temptations", comes from a 1795 edition of Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
Courtesy of The American Antiquarian Society.

When Dorothee started writing The Glass Harmonica, she knew the husband would have a secret. She had no idea that the husband, Henry Garland, would turn out to be the “Johnny Appleseed of Porn.” A rural bookseller in the early 1800s, he secretly operates a sex shop on cartwheels.

The novel is fiction but scholars agree it is historically likely that someone must have been traveling the new roads of New England selling books like Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The research into what exactly Henry might actually have peddled from his horse and buggy led Dorothee to discover all kinds of art hidden in archives or published deep inside 400-page scholarly books. The images surprised, shocked, and delighted her. She showed them to friends. They loved seeing them. She hesitated. She showed them to strangers. They loved seeing them. So she decided to publish them. With technology now allowing art to be easily distributed, she contacted libraries for image rights. The result is a new type of ebook: pictures, videos, music and text, with links to readers' social-media conversations, virtually bound; a dynamic combination of book, museum exhibit and salon. Such Were My Temptations: Bawdy Americans, 1760-1830, will be available in spring, 2012.

Such Were My Temptations peeks into Henry’s Sex Shop on Cartwheels

  • Henry sells buttons with erotic scenes carved on them. In the archives at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Dorothee learned there was a mysteriously fat book. Open it, and there are no pages.
    Toby Jug
    Toby jug. unknown artist, United States, ca. 1830. Courtesy of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.
    Instead, you find gemstones with erotic scenes carved on them. They are amazingly explicit.
  • In Philadelphia, where Henry sets up his secret business, “bawdy houses” existed on almost every corner in this first capitol of the new United States.
  • One of Henry’s most popular items is Aristotle’s Masterpiece. This book had nothing to do with Aristotle and everything to do with sex. Scholars think it might have been the third book people bought in the early Republic, after the Bible and Noah Webster’s Spelling Book.
  • Henry sells ‘love daggers’ or dildos. For years, Dorothee heard rumors (passed from footnote to footnote) about dildos that were popular with the lonely whalers’ wives on Nantucket. Now some have been found. See a plaster, hand-colored dildo that was discovered when restorers exposed a hiding place in a bricked-up chimney.
  • Henry offers his customers a book that will be banned in 1821: Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The ebook shows a color illustration from an American edition’s frontispiece: it is definitely for mature audiences only.