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How sex toys have changed over time

It might not be very pleasant to imagine how our grandmothers and grandfathers had sex, or, God forbid, how vibrators were used. But our ancestors (well, maybe not exactly ours) definitely used sex toys. True, they were not made of the highest quality silicone, but they did perform their function. And isn’t that the most…

It might not be very pleasant to imagine how our grandmothers and grandfathers had sex, or, God forbid, how vibrators were used. But our ancestors (well, maybe not exactly ours) definitely used sex toys.

True, they were not made of the highest quality silicone, but they did perform their function. And isn’t that the most important thing? We offer a brief insight into the history of sex toys – from strange and amusing to truly ingenious.

~ 2,000 years ago

dildo
Source: Asian Art Museum

This bronze dildo with a ring attached (perhaps to be worn as a strapon?) Was found in an aristocratic tomb in the Chinese city of Yizheng in Jiangsu Province. Judging by the material and the detailed form, the ancient Chinese considered sex toys an art form.

~ 2,000 years ago

Ancient Butt Plug
Source: Asian Art Museum

This jade and bronze formation was found in the royal tomb near modern-day Shanghai. The researchers believe that this ‘anal plug’ was actually used to close certain openings in the corpses and maintain the body’s ‘chi’ (the life force and energy found in the body), not as a sex toy. But it could definitely be a prototype of a modern sex toy.

Ancient Greece

bread dildo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Women or men living in ancient Greece may not have had many sex shops in the city center, but they did have a lot of bread. It was also used to build… bread dildos. Moreover, it turns out that people living in those days were not identified as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – they simply surrendered to any pleasure they loved.

1869

manipulator

The steam-powered ‘Manipulator’ is known as the first hand-crank vibrator ever created. It was introduced before the invention of electricity. American physician George Taylor came up with this unique, rather frightening design, which consisted of a dildo attached to a steam engine that created vibrations.

This person should definitely be given points for ingenuity. Unlike many vibrators that were introduced after this, you can never present it as a beauty tool. It was clear what the purpose was. It is important to remember that a device like this is not designed for female orgasm. During this time, such devices were designed to help alleviate ‘female hysteria’ – and by ‘hysteria’ they meant sexual tension, but it took decades before these actual words were used.

1880-1900

handcrank vibrator
Source: Thackray Medical Museum

The ‘Macaura Pulsocon’ hand vibrator was one of the most modern hand crank vibrators, developed in the 1880s and sold throughout the early 1900s. It may look like a torture device, but this hand-held vibrator was capable of generating 5,000 vibrations per minute. Of course, it took a lot more effort than modern vibrators. It had to be held by one end, placed the other on the body, and then manually turned the crank handle. The vibrator was marketed as a DIY medicine for disease – oh, and of course to combat ‘female hysteria.

Beginning of 1900-1920

blood circulator
Source: Museum of Ancient Vibrators

So what do you do after you invent the ‘Macaura Pulsocon’ hand vibrator? You upgrade the model and create the next generation vibrator: the ‘ Blood Circulator ‘. Like the original, it was a hand crank vibrator with some improvements: it had applicators that could be screwed into the center of the device to manually increase vibration.

1920

polar club vibrator
Source: Museum of Ancient Vibrators

You have to give extra points to this Polar Club electric vibrator for the attractive green handle and the packaging that depicts this device attached to the neck. Two interesting things about this vibrator, which came out in 1928, are that it uses electricity – in the hurry to stop hand cramps – and it boasts a textured tip to give a variety of pleasurable sensations. As women have not yet used vibrators for their body parts, it is not possible to know how much they bought as a beauty product compared to its other purposes. However, the Museum of Antique Vibrators presents it as an example of the sex toys of the past.

1930

Gave
Source: Museum of Ancient Vibrators

The Andis vibrator has been sold to both men and women as a beauty and health enhancer that can be used to increase blood circulation to the scalp, face, and elsewhere in the body. But given how many different tips were attached to the device, it is believed that a woman’s cheeks were not the only body part that benefited from all of these different types of stimulation.

1930

rolling pin
Source: Museum of Ancient Vibrators

The ‘Rolling Pin’ heat-releasing massage device certainly looked unpretentious, but it had a powerful punch. It created heat and vibration to provide an incredible massage for the whole body. However, this device seems a bit too large and voluminous to be specifically designed to stimulate the clitoris.

1940

Source: Museum of Ancient Vibrators

Vibrators like this ‘vintage’ treasure, called ‘Hollywood Vibra-Tone’, were also called ‘spot reducers’ because its manufacturers claimed it could help them lose weight. It’s bulky and looks more like a classic radio rather than a sex toy. It was certainly inconspicuous and did not cause outrage if a guest found it in the bathroom.

1940

stimulax
Source: Getty Images

The ‘Oster Stim-U-Lax’ for barbers was a vibrating device that could be strapped to the hand to give a strong feeling wherever it is placed. Of course, they were marketed to hairdressers for use in a client scalp massage, but people started using other benefits of this device quite early. At the ‘Babeland Museum of Vintage Vibrators’, this is included in the list of examples of multifunctional vibrators that provided ‘strong vibrations… through fingers on the scalp or other parts of the body.

1970

hitachi magic wand
Source: Museum of Ancient Vibrators

The ‘Hitachi Magic Wand’ was a favorite tool from Japan that became known as the ‘Vibrator Cadillac’. It was marketed as a massage tool, but with a long handle and a powerful vibrating cap, it didn’t take long for people like American sex teacher Betty Dodson to sing a song of praise for the subject in public. (Funny fact: Dodson even used Hitachi Magic Wand in private masturbation classes to help women learn to stimulate the clitoris.) The 1970s were a decade when vibrators finally became known as sex aids.

1980s – present

vibratex rabbit
Source: Vibratex

In 1983, the Japanese sex toy company Vibratex invented the iconic sex toy Rabbit. It bravely went where no other device had been before: it provided both “entry” and clitoral stimulation. But there was one problem: Japanese manufacturers were not allowed to make direct sex toys, so they decided to circumvent this unpleasant law by transforming their devices into animal forms (other companies made sex toys such as beavers, turtles, and kangaroos). The ‘Pearl Rabbit’ vibrator also came with a rotating bead belt for extra stimulation. It became extremely popular after Charlotte showed the device in action in the series “Sex and the City”.

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