The History Of Sex Toys

The History Of Sex Toys

7 minutes to read

The History Of Sex Toys

Today, depending on whom you are talking to, sex toys can be an embarrassing or taboo topic; but back in the day… way back in the day, the “treasures of pleasure” predecessors of today were used for reasons that could make some, or a lot of you, scoff at our predecessors.

In ancient Rome and Greece, dildos were made from wood, leather, glass, stone, silver, gold and animal horns. To this day there are many dildos still made from stone, glass, silver, gold and metal.

The Cave

Let’s begin where it all started, that we know of, all the way back to a cave in the German countryside, tens of thousands of years ago, about 27,000 to 30,000 years (Gravettian); where the very first record of the phallus, A.K.A. dildo lies.

The phallus, discovered buried in the Swabian Jura at Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm (southwestern Germany), was pieced back together from 14 fragments of siltstone. This prehistoric “tool’s” life size, symbolic representation of a penis proposes it may have been a sexual tool by Ice Age women. According to Professor Nicholas Conard, Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, Tübingen University, the phallus was also used for knapping flints. You can see the highly polished and intuitively obvious artifact, justly named “Ice Art: Clearly Male” on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Blaubeuren.

Magical Power 6,000 B.C.

It was believed magical power resided in the male and female sex organs. A sculpture of the male sex organ, unearthed in Anatolia, Turkey dating back to 6,000 B.C., was used to ward off evil and ill luck.

Bronze Age Maumbury Rings 2,500 B.C.

A phallus carved out of chalk dating back to 2,500 B.C. found in a ditch at Maumbury Rings Settlement is on exhibition at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, U.K; it clearly is in the shape of a penis.

Ancient Greece 500 B.C.

Breadsticks were not just baked for soups and stews. The ancient Greeks definitely broadened the scope of “let’s eat” and “pass the rolls”. To replace the uncomfortable, hard materials used for dildos – stone, wood, tar and other materials – they rolled dough into the shape of penises and baked up some very hard breadsticks – olisbokollikes – that could withstand a sex toy’s role. Maybe it is better said, “sex toy rolls”?

Egyptian Queen Cleopatra 100 B.C.

It is not a far stretch of the imagination, even for those who do not know history facts on the lady, to believe Cleopatra, and Egyptians alike had their sex toys. A rumor still living strong today, one more innovative than the other and a tribute to women’s pleasure until this day, Cleopatra may have invented the first vibrator. She ordered her servants to fill the inside of a hollow gourd with angry bees. Well, bees to make angry and it probably only took a couple of smacks to the gourd or a few stern shakes to rev those motors up.

Ben Wa Balls 500 A.D.

Though the water is a little muddy on Ben Wa Balls history, popular belief it they surfaced around 500 A.D. somewhere in Japan. These vaginal “dumb bells” strengthen the vaginal muscles making sex more pleasurable for men and women. Back in the day, these balls often were made of metal and prone to rusting from overuse. What, you don’t think they took sexual pleasure seriously?

What good comes from Ben Wa Balls? When inserted into the vagina they immediately, and constantly, begin to massage the vaginal walls and can result in intense sexual arousal. They also help to control the urinary bladder and assist in vaginal prolapse prevention. – Women around the globe thank you Japan. Ok, they are not dumb bells… they are balls, and thanks to modern technology ladies do not need to worry about rust.

Ben Wa Balls also help to strengthen the pelvic floor and the kegel muscles. However, ben wa balls are not usually recommended because they can get lost inside the cervix. Instead we normally recommend kegel balls since they have a string for easier retrieval. Since men also need their pelvic floor strengthened, they can also do that with kegel weights.

Medieval Middle Ages 1000s

Sex toys take the low ground and go in hiding from the Catholic Church. The church labeled pleasuring one’s self with phallus-shaped objects as a sin, but self-pleasure still thrived despite the threat of penance on holy days (legitimate ones) for five years.

In China between 1368 and 1644, during the Ming Dynasty penis men used penis rings made of ivory and jade. Ben Wa Balls were made of mercury and led. What a way to be poisoned ladies, and men. Talk about living the good life and going out happy?

Renaissance 1500s

By the time the Renaissance hit the scene, sex toys were here to stay, despite church objections. The word “dildo” made its first recorded appearance in an English language poem in the 16th century.

“The Choise of Valentines Or the Merie Ballad of Nash His Dildo.” ~ Thomas Nashe, Late 16th Century Poet

Thomas Edison’s Lightbulb, “The Manipulator” and “Granville Hammer” 1800s –

The 1800s was another leap forward for sex toys, and now that there was electricity, thanks to Thomas Edison’s patented lightbulb, it was inevitable for the powered vibrator to make its mark in history.

In 1869, George Taylor, not the famous singer, an American physician was credited with inventing the steam-powered vibrator called “the manipulator”.  This made its debut just eleven years before Dr. Joseph Granville, created an electomechanical vibrator in the year 1880.

A machine to relieve muscle aches and pains, was invented by Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville in 1880, called the percussor, but to his chagrin it was known to others as the “Granville Hammer”. The world’s first handheld electric vibrator was created for physicians to treat male patients, but in the 19th century, when women were not believe to be even capable of an orgasm, some physicians used the GH to treat “female hysteria”. Since female orgasms were not possible, symptoms of irritability, insomnia, nervousness and “excessive moisture in the vagina” was diagnosed and labeled “female hysteria” and treated by applying a “medicinal massage”. How exactly did physicians perform the “medicinal massage”? By inserting one finger into the vagina and gently rubbing the woman’s genitalia until a sudden outburst – not defined as an orgasm – of paroxysm. Remember that scoff mentioned earlier? Yeah, insert that right here and add a giggle in a moment. Keep reading.

For the female patient, physician-assisted paroxysm – a sudden violent expression or sudden attack of a certain activity or emotion, A.K.A. fit, spasm, outburst, convulsion, eruption, explosion, etc. – soon became popular, but not so much a favorite of doctors who experienced pain from sore fingers and wrists. So, does this possibly mean the doctors should have been diagnosed with “female medicinal massage induced carpel tunnel”?

It did not take long for physicians to realize Dr. Granville’s invention would relieve their aches and pains, and the Granville Hammer was soon adopted as a useful tool to treat “female hysteria”. Imagine their reaction, pleasant surprise even, when treatment that had taken up to an hour or more – often failing… go figure – could be take mere minutes to complete with an much improved success rate. Insert giggle here.

Dildos and Rubber Come Together 1850

Let’s jump back a little in history for a moment. As early as the year 1850, rubber dildos were popping up, according to historians, and pornographic movies used them beginning in the 1930s, and still do today. However, rubber dildos are no longer used today. Silicone is most widely preferred and is also the most body-safe.

The Rabbit Vibrator 1900s – 2000s

A new sex toy takes women by storm – the Rabbit Vibrator – the bestselling sex toy of all time. Leave it to the good ole USA to create the first “Jack Rabbit Vibrator”. Technically, the rabbit vibrator originated in Japan as the Rabbit Habit. Once it came to the US it was made it into the Jack Rabbit. One of the things that makes it so popular is that it’s designed to simultaneously stimulate the vagina and clitoris. No wonder it is estimated 6 million toys are sold each year; and having a starring role in an episode of “Sex and the City” did not hurt sales either, nor did Oprah mentioning it in O Magazine. Today, the Jack Rabbit vibrator has grown up and become more sophisticated and modern.

Guardian Express the Oculus Rift 2013

You really have to give a high five and kudos to China. Men all over the world should be thanking them. In November 2013, Japanese manufacturer who takes men’s pleasure seriously combined a virtual realty headset (goggles) with a robotic arm with a pair of virtual reality goggles and the Tenga Novint Falcon made its debut, the “love glove” if you will. No more lonely nights, no more Valentine’s Days spent alone… well sort of. Now a man can turn the lights down and torch up some candles with his favorite music softly playing in the background, all while having sex with his 3D fantasy girlfriend and her responsive robotic arm. As of 2014 you can even buy sex toys that are controlled by smartphones, which puts more control in the hands of your lover!

How many times has it been said, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” History has proven time-and-time-again, humans are very sexually innovative. From stone to wood, breadsticks to angry bees to sexism and chauvinistic attitudes, one thing for sure, women and men alike, have benefited more times than any of us can count.