Sex Toys

Sex Toy History: Unusual Vibrators

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An interesting part of vibrator history is that they were often not manufactured nor marketed for masturbation. Many products used as sex toys were advertised as therapeutic massagers of the non-sexual kind. Household items sold with the word “vibrator” on the box were meant for relaxing muscles but often purchased as a “pervertable” (an everyday object used for sexual pleasure) rather than their original advertised use. Even the original Hitachi Magic Wand’s public relations department argued for decades that it was just to massage the kinks out of your shoulders and back, and not for use on more intimate parts of the body.

When you’re researching vintage vibrators, you usually find a parade of the usual suspects. In between the late Victorian hand crank massagers and the mid-century power tools, I found a couple that teetered on the sex toy edge. While I can’t find proof that they were used for solo sexy time (then again we can’t prove vibrators marketed for health care were all sex toys anyway) there’s something about them that just screams pervertable to me.

Vibra Bed may not be a conventional vibrator but the image on the box of a woman enjoying her “relaxing” time in bed made me wonder about the Vibra Bed’s intended use. I found two versions; the first has a late 60’s illustration then another with an early 70’s photo. In the box, you find a mid-sized square device you can attach to the bed to replicate those vibrating “magic finger” motel beds. Because everyone goes home from that no-tell motel going “Gosh I wish I had that vibrating bed action at home!” (Well, maybe a few did. Who am I to yuck somebody’s yum)

Vibra Bed made its first appearance in 1970. The good and services part of the trademark document lists it as a “vibrator for attachment to a bed or sofa for causing vibration of parts of the human body.” An ad in the Pittsburgh Press says it can be used with a sofa or chair. How well this small box works to make your entire bed, sofa, or chair into a vibrator is a question for the ages. Might be a nice full body massage after a long day or it could be about as effective as my cell phone going off repeatedly. Dynamic Classics Ltd., which went bankrupt in 1996 after losing a government lawsuit, had several items under trademark that were either fitness or travel oriented but nothing quite like Vibra Bed.

Sex Toy History: Unusual VibratorsAnother interesting find is the Filter Queen Vibrator by Health-Mor Inc. Filter Queen is known for its canister style vacuum cleaners. They carry a wide assortment of accessories including an attachment that turns your vacuum into a vibrator. The box shows how the hose vibrates and recommended use on various parts of the body. The attachment was invented by Eugene F. Martinec, vice president of manufacturing and inventor of many accessories for Health-Mor, and patented in 1962. At $14.50, this accessory is quite expensive, about $115 today. This price makes it more than twice the price of a Magic Wand and not as exciting. It looks like it came as part of an entire filter queen kit sold door to door, so may not have been purchased separately very often. Filter Queen is still in existence today, but no longer sells the attachment. Although an authorized dealer in Canada still offers the vibrator on their website.

An item that just screams sex toy to me is the Vibra-Finger gum massager. The vibrating end of thisSex Toy History: Unusual Vibrators massager comes shaped like a rather realistic looking finger. Apparently, dentists highly recommended gum massage to combat Pyorrhea or soft irritated gums. It cost $6.95, had a 30-day money back guarantee, and a one year warranty. The instruction booklet recommends a 60-second massage after brushing your teeth and lets you know you can purchase replacement fingers for a $1 each. I’m not sure why these fingers had to look so disturbingly life-like, it doesn’t seem necessary to perform the cleansing and refreshing massage

Vibra-Finger advertised in several newspapers from what looks to be the 1950s. I couldn’t find any information about either the Dentagene Company or Atlas Industries, both listed as the parent company on the ads. Nor could I find a patent for it. When it was invented and first distributed, is a mystery.

I was surprised to find all of these items for sale on eBay, Etsy and online stores specializing in collectibles. Their distributors may be long gone, but the product is still lingering about.

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Sex Toy History: The Hitachi Magic Wand

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My first introduction to the Hitachi Magic Wand was in the movie Bachelor Party (1984). I was enjoying this delightfully awful Tom Hanks vehicle on HBO when the scene came up where two sex workers who get rerouted from a raucous bachelor party to a demure bridal shower. When the women arrive, they pull out a giant vibrator and a whip then casually ask, “Is there an empty outlet in here?” before sinking out of frame in a heated embrace. I had never seen the large wand like sex toy before, only the plastic oblong shaped vibrators sold at Spencer Gifts. It didn’t make me run out and get one, nor did I even think about it much after that scene. Little did I know but it was one of the most popular vibrators of all time.

I would later find out the name of this toy, the Hitachi Magic Wand. I would also discover that nearly everyone I know finds it an indispensable part of their sex toy arsenal. The Magic Wand is so popular it should have a fan club. So popular it’s even referred to as the Cadillac of sex toys. What’s also interesting is this popular sex toy is not really a sex toy but a muscle massager. At least, that was it’s original intent when it was first distributed back in 1968.

In May of 1968, Hitachi Sales Corporation filed to trademark the phrase, Magic Wand. In that document, the Magic Wand’s first use and first use in commerce as an electric massager are listed as April 25, 1968. The original packaging did not have the words Magic Wand on it, simply Hitachi massager. The packaging added the phrase Magic Wand in about 1969. Early packaging was plain with only the product name and logo. Packaging from the mid to late 1970’s shows it’s recommended use as a massager with photos of a model showcasing various parts of the body you would use it on like shoulders, legs, and feet. The instructions also suggested points of the body like neck, shoulders, and back.

The massager hasn’t changed much since 1968, a wand handle with the cylindrical shaped head and flexible neck. Early versions of the head are more cylindrical in shape and have a padded vinyl black or red quilted covering. The quilted head appears ribbed for her pleasure, even though it would not gain that status for a couple of years. The original massager only came in one speed, and the handle was fluted (like long grooves on a Greek column) and wasn’t tapered. They also came in three different colors like white, pink, and red. Hitachi initially included a vinyl bag but discontinued it in the mid 70’s.

Later versions, around the mid 70’s, do away with the more blunt cylinder shaped head with the quilted padding and feature the more rounded smooth head with the single groove you see today. The ones that were officially labeled Magic Wand seemed to debut a short time after the trademark was officially registered in 1969. The Magic Wand had two speed settings and the more familiar tapered body. One of my favorite versions is “The Workout” with its 70’s color scheme and uber macho dude replacing the woman in the usual packaging. I’m sure this made it appealing as a post workout massage as opposed to supplying relief to tired women’s shoulders and feet. There were subtle variations over time like changing the color of the power switch and the handle becoming more tapered. By the late 70’s, Hitachi stopped offering the wand in different colors and white became the standard. By the late 90’s, they added the now classic blue trim.

It’s popularity as a sex toy did not happen right away. Hitachi always maintained that this was a body massage device meant for health care and not a sex toy. Body massagers were often co-opted to be vibrators, but the Magic Wand got lots of great press by the mid 70’s, mostly initiated by Betty Dodson. Dodson initially preferred the Panasonic Panabrator but switched over to the Magic Wand. She was known to use the device in her Bodysex workshops then recommended the Magic Wand in her book “Liberating Masturbation” published in 1974. The news spread, and soon it became a sex shop staple. It’s been a best seller at Good Vibrations in San Francisco since they opened in 1977.

Since it was technically a body massager, it could be sold in regular stores. Dodson said she could get it in Macy’s small appliance section. Hitachi at times seemed none too thrilled their therapeutic massage device was usurped as a sex toy then oddly supportive of it. In 1992, they commissioned chocolate versions in honor of the 15th anniversary of Good Vibrations. Then in 1999, they issued a statement asserting that the wand’s only use was for health care. I guess you could consider using it for masturbation as health care, but I get the feeling that is not what they intended.

In 2000, they had a falling out with their US distributor, American Appliance Corporation. Coupled with their unease that their product was now famous as the ultimate masturbation accessory, Hitachi decided to cease production. It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror. After a couple of months without a distributor, and prices of Magic Wands starting to skyrocket on eBay, they inked a deal with Vibratex as their new distributor.

Wait. Vibratex is a sex toy distributor, yet Hitachi denies it’s a sex toy. Hmmm…

In 2002, Magic Wands were flying off the shelves after a similar looking massager showed up in an episode of Sex and the City. Despite all this, in 2013 Hitachi decided again that it didn’t want to sell a sex toy and wanted to pull the plug on the product. Vibratex convinced them to remove the Hitachi name and sell them as the Original Magic Wand, or Magic Wand Original as was advertised in the rebranding debut in 2014. Manufacturing had changed slightly, which caused many to complain it is not as well build or long lasting, but it remains highly recommended.

While the wand has always recommended stopping use after 25 minutes to avoid overheating, many say the device can go much longer. Its eco-friendly cord means you don’t go through tons of batteries to use it. Getting its power from an outlet rather than batteries is a key to its power. Despite all the newfangled sex toys, including the recently debuted rechargeable Magic Wand Original, this time-tested workhorse will never go out of style or popularity.

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Oskar Kokoschka and The Silent Woman

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Some people just can’t get over a breakup. They pine for their former lover, taking out old photographs, memorabilia from their time together, maybe even going to their old favorite places. Or just stalking them and harassing them with repeated plaintive texts. Some people go to great lengths in their refusal to let go of their ex. Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka went that extra mile; he had a doll made of the girlfriend who jilted him.

Oskar Kokoschka was an artist, poet, and playwright. In 1912 he started a relationship with socialite and composer Alma Mahler, the widow of composer Gustav Mahler. They only lasted about two years together as in that time Oskar became more obsessed and enthralled with her while Alma’s feelings for Oskar became a bit more “meh.” Oskar volunteered for the Austrian army at the beginning of WW1 in 1914. While he is away, he gets nearly fatally wounded and returns home in 1915 after his recovery. He is wounded again, but this time with a broken heart. Alma had taken up with a former lover, Walter Gropius, and married him while Oskar was away. He deals with the breakup by finding a way to keep Alma with him. He commissions a doll maker to recreate Alma in life size doll form. One that looks and feels like her in every way.

Oskar contacted doll maker Hermine Moos with a detailed description of how he wanted the doll to look and feel. He sent all of Alma’s measurements along with a life-sized drawing and instructions to not only make the doll to the exact measurements but pay close attention to the dimensions of the head, neck, ribcage, rump and limbs. He wrote, “Please permit my sense of touch to take pleasure in those places where layers of fat and muscle suddenly give way to a sinewy covering of skin.” He wanted to transform her into reality, an experience he can embrace. He even gave examples for the main body stuffing and different stuffing for her breast and buttocks. All this detail was so time consuming, it took Hermine six, excruciatingly long for Oskar, months to finish.

The doll is indeed quite lifelike except for one disconcerting detail; its skin was made of feathers. The doll actually looks furry, though seems to be covered with small downy feathers. My guess is that Hermine took the idea of soft skin a bit too much to heart and found the softest thing she could find. Oskar was impressed with the look of the doll but not the fluffy body. He was upset that it made it extremely difficult to dress her in the fine Parisian clothing and undergarments he had bought. He said it was like she was covered in polar bear fur which made it difficult to even get a stocking on much less the clothing and delicate robes he wanted to dress her in. Despite the unnatural plushie quality of her skin, he did seem happy to see the likeness of his love and tried to make the best of it. Unfortunately, it never lived up to his expectations

Oskar spent most of his time sketching and painting the doll, something he had done often with Alma. There were rumors that he took the doll on carriage rides and to the opera, there may have even been sexual relations with it. There was no evidence that he actually did these things and may have been purposely spread by Hulda, whom he was involved with at this time, at his request. He had first thought of this doll as Eurydice returned to Orpheus from the dead. Instead of fueling his addiction, it cured him of it. After all the posing, sketching and painting, he had lost that loving feeling.

Once he had moved on from his obsession he decided to throw a party for The Silent Woman, the name he and Hulda called his ersatz Eurydice. The party got pretty wild. The next morning the police arrived and woke the sleeping post party participants along with Oskar with a report of a murder. When they went out into the garden the doll was found covered in what looked like blood. She was also missing its head. The blood turned out to be red wine. In his drunken state, he beheaded the doll and broke a bottle of red wine over its head. Apparently, he had been cured of his passion and was ready to move on.

Photos still exist of Kokoschka’s Silent Woman, as do the paintings and his original sketches and instructions to Moos. Perhaps Oskar would not have been so disappointed had he been around in modern times. He could have commissioned a RealDoll version of his beloved Alma. I’m sure there would be no risk of dressing his RealDoll feeling like wrestling with a polar bear. Those expensive Parisian fashions would have looked lovely on high-quality silicone.

Photo: Henriette Moos, Oskar Kokoschkas Alma-Puppe als Venus, 1919 © Privatsammlung, Courtesy Richard Nagy Ltd., London

 

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The Birth of the Butt Plug

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Humans have been carving and using many different devices for pleasure since the beginning of time. We not only learned how to use tools to create shelter, clothing, works of art, and weapons as we evolved but used those tools to make sex toys. The dildo is as old as, well, dirt but I was surprised to find that other sex toys weren’t fully fleshed out until the 19th century. One such item is the butt plug.

I was hard pressed to find much evidence of butt plugs before the 1800s. I’m surprised because I can’t imagine the concept of toys for anal play just sprung into someone’s mind a little over a century ago. Anal pleasure seems to have been limited to manual, genital, and dildo penetration. A flanged base was nowhere to be seen as far as I could tell. The only prehistory I could find was the practice of “Figging” which is the practice of peeling ginger into a butt plug shape then inserted vaginally or anally. Figging was a form of punishment or torture. Today it is used in consensual BDSM play.

Just to be clear, a butt plug is a device that has a cone shaped or anatomically correct shaped end that is inserted into the anus. It has a flanged base to keep it from slipping further inside thus rendering it irretrievable by any means not requiring a trip to the emergency room. The area between the flanged base and the central part of the plug curves in sharply to prevent the butt plug from slipping out. A butt plug is different than an anal plug for medical use. A medical anal plug does not have a cone shape but a disc or plug shape to prevent fecal incontinence. A butt plug can be worn for added pleasure during sex, during masturbation or even worn during the course of the day for continual sexual stimulation. Modern butt plugs vary in width, length, and shape. They also come in a rainbow of colors and a variety of materials. But where are the butt plugs of the past?

The earliest example of a butt plug I could find were rectal dilators used to help with constipation and hemorrhoids, also known as piles. The most famous dilators were a set sold as Dr. Young’s Ideal Rectal Dilators from 1893 to 1940. Dr. Frank E. Young of Canton, Ohio patented his rectal dilators in 1892. Advertisement for Dr. Young’s patented rectal dilators can be seen by 1893. The package includes several dilators of increasing sizes in a somewhat familiar butt plug shape of today; olive-shaped tip with a straight shaft and flanged end. They were originally made of rubber, and the instructions suggested they be used with either Dr. Young’s Piloment lubrication or vaseline. One would gradually insert the dilator then as one adjusted to the size, would move up to the bigger size. The dilator relaxed and stretched the rectum to either relieve constipation or to allow hemorrhoids to heal. This treatment is still used today. One surprising recommendation for use back in the late 19th century was to prevent or treat insanity. Thankfully something the dilators are not used for today.

Dr. Young was not the only person to recommend the use of rectal dilators. There were others who came up with their own versions.

George Starr White used a method he called The Finer Forces of Nature to “… diagnose and treat all manner of unhealth.” He started his research on his particular form of medical treatments as early as 1881. One of the devices he sold was the Valens Bio-Dynamo Prostatic and Rectal Normalizer around 1928. White wrote many books about his cures and methods of diagnosis, many of which rely on natural remedies. 1931. His theories about chromotherapy and “The Golden Planet” of his true origin, remind me of an early L. Ron Hubbard. The Federal Trade Commission forced him to discontinue advertising his prostate treatment in 1931.

The Recto Rotor looks longer than most of the rectal dilators I’ve seen but was marketed for the same conditions; piles, constipation, and prostate trouble. Its extended length gave it access to the prostate, and it bills itself as “… the only device that reaches the Vital Spot effectively.” This product may be trying to do too many things at once since it also has vent holes to apply lubrication, or as the ad description says, “… through which the undulant inserted in the chamber below may be forced out by turning the knurled cap.” Everything about the Recto Rotor makes Young’s dilators look tame. The “knurled cap” doesn’t look like it’s flanged in any way so I can’t tell if this is supposed to be left in or just held by the user.

Some products were variations on Dr. Young’s rectal dilators such as Whitehead’s Dilator from the 1870’s and Thebaud’s sphincter-ani dilator from the 1880’s. Curvlite made glass rectal dilators and were around until about 1950’s. These look a bit more like the spawn of a standard butt plug and a chandelier light bulb than the straight-sided bulb tipped Dr. Young version. The bulbous main body of the plug has an extension at the tip that makes it look a bit gentler than Young’s. Just like Young’s dilators, these come in various widths so you can “gradually” increase the girth. I saw a set similar to the Curvilite glass set but made out of bakelite. It was on an online auction site, so there wasn’t much info but they seemed to have many early 20th to mid-century dilators mostly culled from eBay. I even found a company called Klystra (an enema supply company) that had a self-proclaimed takeoff on Young’s dilators complete with replica packaging. Unfortunately, Klystra has gone out of business so you can’t actually order one.

I found only one device that had a unique shape. The box is labeled The Talisman and has an entirely different shape that the ones I previously mentioned. It has a curved shape before ending at the olive-shaped tip. The auction house that was advertising it labeled it as a 19th-century medical vulcanite rectal dilator but the narrow shaft and curved angle looks more like it’s intent is to put pressure on the prostate. It looks more built for pleasure than for medical purposes, but since companies couldn’t advertise their products as pleasurable until relatively recently, we may never know the creators intent. It’s difficult to determine when these dilators turned from medicinal to pleasurable. While I’m sure someone had to look at them and think “oooh, that looks like fun,” no one was going to put that publicly in a catalog or advertisement for quite some time.

There had to be someone to who sold butt plugs for pleasure, but I have yet to find who that is. The first official brick and mortar sex shop, Beate Uhse’s Specialty Store for Marital Hygiene, was opened up in Germany in the 1960’s. Before that, Beate sold her products along with contraception advice through a catalog. I’m hoping to find some surviving examples of early catalogs like Beate Uhse’s to the first distributor. I look forward to having more info for the next Anal August

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Mughal Painting: Dildos, Sex Doll and Anal Sex

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In my travels around the internet to find interesting (well at least to me) pieces of sexual history, I’ve come across some things that I don’t seem to be able to fit in anywhere else. They just need to stand alone and be admired, discussed or pondered over. One such thing is one particular photo I found while researching sex dolls. The painting shows a copulating couple using some sort of improvised sex toy or machine. The first thing I notice is the two dildos are attached to a board, and one of them is being used for anal sex. Upon closer inspection, I see that the woman is headless. I find the same thing every time I search for more info about this painting, an article using it as evidence of sex doll use in early Persian culture. But is it really a sex doll? Is it really from early Persian culture? This painting was a mystery I just had to solve.

I’ve done some investigating but so far haven’t found out anything that relates to this particular artwork. Not even Wellcome Library in London which houses the actual manuscript page in its collections has any more information other than a possible date. Wellcome has it dated as 19th century, which means it’s not a painting from the heydays of Mughal paintings. It would have to be from the 15th-17th centuries. The piece looks to be part of a manuscript, and there are several other pages done in a style that appear to be part of a series. The other pages have similar looking backgrounds and the same man playing a reoccurring role in them. The manuscript pages seem more like a catalog of sins than a sex manual like the Kama Sutra. The other paintings show the same man copulating with a deer, having anal sex with what looks like a demon or the devil, a crocodile performing cunnilingus on a female demon, women masturbating with vegetables, and more. It’s possible that the subject matter is influenced by the time period. The 19th century found India becoming much more conservative about sex.

There have been several centuries of evolution in Mughal painting before we get to the time of this painting. The Mughal’s Muslim Persianate empire started in the 16th century. The Empire peaked in the mid 17th century, which was a golden age for architecture that included the Taj Mahal. By the mid 18th century, the Mughal’s influence started to decline and was given over entirely to the British Empire by the mid 19th century. During that time, the empire was known not only for its art and architecture but also for science and technology. Mughal paintings were often about the lives of royalty, including their sex lives. The sex portrayed in these paintings is quite explicit, even if the body positioning is painfully unrealistic. Erotic Hindu art greatly influenced Mughal art. Sex was shown as natural and commonplace, even if those practicing it are Mughal kings with their large harems or gods and goddesses. The tone of this painting and the others that seem to be from the same manuscript is entirely different than the ones from the three centuries before it. The sex depicted here is distinctly taboo. It has 19th-century Victorian moral hangups written all over it.

Knowing that this painting is from the 19th century also means that it’s not proof of the early use of sex dolls. I also find that the “headless model,” as Wellcome refers to the figure the man is copulating with, doesn’t look much like a doll. It has pubic hair, and henna on the hands and feet. Perhaps it’s more of a depiction of a headless woman, a way of further dehumanizing the already extremely dehumanized women of the Mughal dynasty. Another possibility is that the figure is a headless goddess, something not uncommon among Hindu deities. The most notable is the tantric goddess, Chinnamasta. She is often shown holding her head while blood gushes in three streams from her neck. This makes it unlikely that the figure in this painting is her specifically. It could be just a random headless goddess. And as if having sex with a headless goddess/doll wasn’t edgy enough, there is the double dildo contraption behind him.

The two realistic dildos, including hair covered scrotum, appear to be attached to a swinging board. I’d bet you dollars to donuts that he can push back on the bottom of that board and have the top part push forward to penetrate himself anally. He may not have all the cast members for an official threesome present, but he’s MacGyvered a sex doll and dildo board for a DIY threeway. We’re talking major maker innovation here.

I still can’t quite figure out where that second dildo is going. Perhaps he borrowed this from someone who uses it for double penetration. Or maybe there’s another painting where headless goddess sex doll is going airtight.

Perhaps I have thought way too long about this painting.

I can’t tell what was the purpose behind these manuscript pages. Were they part of someone’s kinky manuscript of sexy perversions that were meant to titillate or Victorian Christian propaganda trying to make this Mughal king look like the host of a satanically influenced sex party that includes demons, root vegetable dildos, crocodiles, and vagina birds? Yes, vagina birds.

Most of these paintings have some writing at the top, as this one does. I couldn’t find any translations and an email to Wellcome about the text has yet to yield an answer. The writing is in Urdu, which I would love to get translated at some point. I didn’t want to wait until I got a translation to write about this painting. Lakeside anal dildo sex seemed the perfect thing to share with you before Anal August is over. I’m going to continue looking into the mystery of 19th-century pseudo-erotic Mughal paintings. Look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with you.

Here is the full image:

Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org

Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org

 

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History of the Sex Doll: Before Plastic

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By Dvortygirl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dvortygirl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Sex dolls have come a long way in the new millennium. They’ve gone from a homemade companion to odd inflatables to the Real Girl. The need for artificial female companionship (the penetrative kind) has been around for centuries. For some the accompaniment of their own had is simply insufficient. Before modern silicone technology made the real doll possible, most sex dolls were made of vinyl or plastic. But what did we do before the advent of vulcanized rubber in the 1840’s and polyvinyl chloride in the 1920’s? We did the best we could with what we had, apparently.

It’s hard to find much documentation about dolls used for sexual acts before the 20th century. Most likely because those early dolls did not survive the test of time due to the materials they were made out of. Also, people just didn’t document that sort of thing. Stories have been told but not much solid written or printed evidence. We have to go on hearsay and there’s very little of that too.

Cloth was a material used to create dolls for centuries, sex dolls included. There are stories of dolls made of cloth or leather and stuffed with straw or bits of cloth as early at the 15th century. Most notably is the Dames de Voyages (or Damas de Viajes) said to be used by French and Spanish sailors of the 17th century. They may not have been the only sailors to use them. Lonely sailors were looking for “companionship” during long voyages on the high seas of this era. Women were not allowed on board ships as they were thought to be unlucky. Instead, figures were fashioned out of fabric and stuffed to give fullness. At the same time, the Dutch were traveling to Japan. The Japanese gave the name “Dutch Wives” to the dolls supposedly made of leather the Dutch sailors had with them for their long journeys to the east. The term is used even today as slang for sex doll.

The Japanese may have been inspired by the Dutch Wives to make their own sex doll. The Azumagata Ningyo (substitute wife/woman doll in Japanese) was written about in the 18th century but images or written records no longer exist. It may have been sold as early as the mid 17th century. It’s said that this doll made of tortoise shell; cloth and leather could be purchased in Ryogoku, a popular shopping district. I also found mentions of a sex doll referred to as a do-ningyo. This doll was in the shape of a young girl with a velvet vulva. Tahi-joro (traveling whores) was another term for these dolls. I’m somewhat unsure if the azumagata ningyo is shaped like a person or is just a pillow shape with an entry area that is lined with tortoise shell and velvet, silk or leather. Ningyo means doll in Japanese so I’m leaning towards a female shaped doll of some sort.

A fascinating thing that came up often in my research was that these dolls seemed to be reserved for those of higher rank in nearly every culture that used them. They were reserved only for those of a high rank, those higher up the chain of command or higher up the social ladder. These dolls sound extremely rudimentary so it’s hard for me to imagine a low ranking sailor or lower class citizen couldn’t enjoy the comforts of a rag doll with strategic openings. One wonders at the hygienics involved in something that may not ever get washed, or washed well, especially after a lengthy time of being repeatedly used. Did many share them or did you have an exclusive relationship with your raggedy love doll? If they were shared there is a certain “ew” factor when it comes to cleanliness and I don’t even want to think about the ease of transmitting STIs among your shipmates.

The French, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese probably weren’t the only ones to come up with this tool for fornication. It paved the way for more realistic looking dolls once rubber is improved with the invention of vulcanization. It’s a shame none of these earlier dolls survived. It would be amazing to see what level of detail, or not, was given to the cloth doll. Unfortunately, we will probably never know what they really looked like or how they were made. Sex with simulacra will continue to evolve along with technology. It will be interesting to see where this this technology takes us.

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