| The history of sex toys did not begin with modern day
rubber and latex products. In fact, mankind has been using erotic
devices from the beginning.
Dildos (shaped like a penis) have been discovered in Upper
Paleolithic art that was created more than 30,000 years ago. These
depictions leave no doubt whatsoever as to what their subject matter was
intended to do. Pleasuring oneself or another with such an object
was obviously a no-brainer as it predates even the invention of the wheel.
Think about that!
Sex toy history actually begins in earnest with the Greeks.
Dildos (Greek: "olisbos") appeared in their art and literature from the
third and fourth centuries BC--Some 2,400 years ago. Among numerous
ancient Greek artifacts of the time is a vase on to which a double-headed
dildo was painted. Since Greeks did not classify themselves as we
do in to sexual preference groups (e.g. straight, gay, bi, etc.), the use
of such an dildos was common. It was a patriarchal society where the average
wife was ten to twenty years younger than her husband, men enjoyed sex
with concubines, and also broke young boys in to oral love making themselves.
Thus, the dildo servered them well in whatever relationship they found
| In Egypt, Cleopatra (69–30 B.C.) is known to have shared
her bed with a whole regiment of men immediately after enjoying a tryst
with Caesar! History says little about the sexual appetites of ancient
Egyptians but evidence does exist to prove that the dildo was a familiar
and appreciated device of the day. One can only imagine what the
Queen of the Nile did to entertain herself when all the men were away at
war. However, when considering that bit of history, we need not stretch
our imaginations too far before coming up with what would be a plausible
Somewhat surprisingly, most sex toy history comes from
the erotic art of each culture and era. For example, the Hong Kong
Museum of History has an ancient Chinese bronze sex toy on display which
dates back to the Han Dynasty (approximately 2000 years ago). The Sex Museum
in Amsterdam houses some fabulous true works of erotic art which display
sex toys as part of the subject matter.
The Roman Empire was flagrantly excessive regarding wild
sex orgies. It is no wonder the very word “sex” comes from the Latin
word “sexus”. Both their written and artistic histories include numerous
references to dildos and other simple sex toy innovations.
In the Middle Ages, (476 A.D. to 1453) sexual pleasures
were called “the Devil’s work”. Religious persecution by the Roman
Catholic Church was brought down upon people who gave free rein to their
sexual lusts and many ended up in shackles or burned at the stake.
The clothing of the time for both males and females covered most of their
bodies from neck to feet. Sexy female lingerie was not allowed for
fear of punishment. Sexual urges were best kept to oneself under
the threat of serious physical punishment. Even whispering the words "dildo"
may have been punishable by death.
| In the 12th century, European men used chastity
belts to keep their women faithful. These chastity belts were made of leather
with metal bands which could be tightened or loosened at the husband's
whim and were secured with padlocks for which he kept the key. There
are now chastity devices for men, too!
In Renaissance Italy (14th thru the 16th centuries), dildos
were called diletto (meaning “delight”). Made of leather, stone, ivory
or wood, they were quite primitive, but functional. Skilled and trusted
craftsmen produced custom dildos. Those who used them employed olive
oil for lubrication.
| Sex toys were also taboo in Victorian England. So, too,
were books that contained any hint of human sexuality. It was during
the Victorian Era, (mid 19th century) that rubber dildos, butt plugs, and
vibrators (1869) were introduced! These toys were much more sanitary,
comfortable, and realistically made than their predecessors. Vibrators
were also quite popular and were sold on the open-market at the time as
“massagers”. Even health spas of the day offered more “elegant” alternatives
to manual paroxysm through steam-powered vibrating devices and water jet
massage. Men and women flocked to these spas “for the medicinal waters”.
The vibrators of this era were prescribed to women by
doctors to treat “hysteria” and were powered by an electric cord in a wall
plug. In 1880, a British doctor invented the first battery-operated,
electric vibrator. This was actually the first "high-tech" sex toy in and
is the predecessor to our modern day battery-operated vibrators, dildos
and other electronic sex toys. Surprisingly, there is actually more modern-day,
sex toy history from the Victorian Era than from any other era in history
except our own.
During the Victorian Era, butt plugs in the shape of wooden eggs were
invented by a European doctor. They were prescribed to “help prevent loss
of sperm through wasteful ejaculation”. The eggs supposedly helped
send semen back to the female reproductive organs. They believed
that by plugging the anus, sperm loss would be alleviated. Today's
butt plug manufacturers design all different shapes and sizes of butt plugs.
The term hysteria comes from the Greek word “hystera”,
which means “uterus”. At the time, it was believed that female psychiatric
infirmities had their roots in uterine imbalances reflected in anxiety,
irritability, sexual fantasies and “pelvic heaviness”. Doctors of this
era treated the “hysteria” by massaging the suffering female’s vaginal
lips until they experienced relief via paroxysm” (orgasm). Because it was
believed at the time that only men were sexual creatures, the vibrator
was prescribed to calm down these “hysteric”
In 1948, Sexologist, Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, shocked the world
with his international bestseller "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,"
This study is commonly known as the Kinsey Report. This sexual survey
reported that 94 percent of the men and 40 percent of the women interviewed
admitted that they masturbated to orgasm--emarkably large proportions considering
the perceived prudishness of that time. Today, the Kinsey Institute declares
that "the vast majority" of people masturbate: both sexes, all ages, single,
married, divorced and widowed.
| In 1918, the Sears Roebuck catalog offered
a vibrator as a “very satisfactory…marital aid that every woman appreciates.
A 1921 issue of Hearst’s magazine marketed vibrators toward men as Christmas
gifts for their wives to insure they remained “young and pretty” and free
from the scourge of “hysteria”.
During the 1920s, “blue” movies (erotic cinemas)
with women using vibrators as sexual stimulators became common. No
longer were vibrators socially camouflaged as medicinal in nature.
By 1930, they were openly advertised and made available to anyone.
During the 1960s, “Free Love” was the rage. Sex toy history
becomes even more interesting in this era because people could obtain sex
toys through special retail outlets and through magazines. The Hippies
of that time period became the parents of today. Thus, sex toys have
become even more numerous and varied. Even though they can
be easily obtained in specialty stores in most cities, they are now sold
in vast quantities via the Internet in all colors, sizes, types, and brands.
Check out the sex toy banners on this page.
You just might find yourself the satisfied owner of your
very own "olisbos," "diletto," or "buttius pluggius."
© all rights reserved - 6/10/2004
The mission of this not-for-profit website is to promote clear insights
and toleration regarding the many variations of primary relationships that
exist in our world. We ask for neither acceptance or approval but
hope that each visitor who reviews the pages of this site will leave them
with a better understanding of the numerous cultural, historical, preferential,
religious, sexual, and sociological approaches to coupling that have always
existed and will continue to exist as long as there are at least two human
beings living on this planet. If the effort put into creating and
maintaining this site results in others coming to the realization that
the basic human need to love and be loved takes on many forms which are
accepted by those who practice them, whether right or wrong as determined
by the personal belief system of others, then it will have served it's