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This Vibrator Museum Charts The History of Sex Toys

For many years, vibrators have been objects of pleasure. And since the Victorian era, they’ve been sold commercially.

The Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum charts the history of these excitements – from long, phallic wobbly things to strange contraptions that resemble hand-turn whisks.

The museum, in San Francisco, USA, is a treasure trove of sexual desire and fantasy. Its collection dates from the late 1800s, right up to the 1970s, when sex toys began to modernise and resemble more what we see today.

Although sex toys from much earlier than the Victorian era have been discovered, they only really became manufactured products in the 1800s – and they were first made for medicinal uses.

“The electric vibrator had its inception in 1869 with the invention of a steam-powered massager, patented by an American doctor,” explains the museum.

“This device was designed as a medical tool for treating ‘female disorders.’

“Within 20 years, a British doctor followed up with a more portable battery-operated model; by 1900, dozens of styles of electric vibrators, just like those in our exhibit, were available to the discriminating medical professional.”

Back in the ‘olden days’, doctors actually induced orgasms in women as ‘legitimate’ cures for disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, and irritablitiy. Single women would visit their GP and receive the ‘treatment’.

Vibrators saved women from the hands of others. And they soon became geared towards sensuality and rapture.

Atlas Obscurer writes that the electric vibrator, arriving in 1902, followed other electric devices such as the sewing machine (1889), fan, kettle, and toaster. These intimate creations were marketed in plush velvet cases – ideal for a woman’s boudoir.

One advertisement of the era lustfully read: “All the pleasure of youth will throb within you.”

However, by the late 1920s, magazines stopped accepting adverts as they feared violating anti-obscenity laws. Sex – and sexual pleasure – was hushed up.

These days, of course, it’s more accepted. Sex shops even appear on high streets, albeit usually covered up to some extent.

The vibrator museum features the pathway of all this – and the variation leading up to today is remarkable. Some designs feature handles, other models include removable tips built for ultimate sensuality. There have for a long time been discreet devices that fit snuggly in a handbag.

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