HERE IS A BIT OF INTERACTIVE TITILLATING …. “TONGUE IN CHEEK” INSIGHT INTO SOME OF OUR INTRIGUING AND THOUGHT PROVOKING TOOLS OF THE TRADE USED ON LADIES SUFFERING FROM HYSTERIA DURING THE VICTORIAN ERA THAT ARE ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL … IN AND AMONGST OUR VERY CLUTTERED, DIVERSE CURIOSITIES AND OTHER COLLECTIONS
Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the 19th century. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms, including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and “a tendency to cause trouble”. In extreme cases, the woman would be forced into the asylum and undergo surgical hysterectomy.
Are these power tools? Medieval torture devices? Ancient hairdryers? Vintage egg whisks? No, they are Victorian, er, personal massagers (including one you had to handcrank)
- Late 19th, early 20th century self-vibrators on display in Gloucestershire
- Were originally created by Victorian doctors to cure women of hysteria
- Female patients were treated with ‘pelvic massage’ using plug-in vibrators
- On display at Littledean Jail, former courthouse, in the Forest of Dean
Take a look at these pictures and consider for a moment what these rather brutal looking metal contraptions might be.
Are they power tools? Medieval torture devices? The world’s first hairdryers? Archaic egg whisks? Nope, these are actually Victorian vibrators, a collection of vintage self-massagers currently on display at Littledean Jail in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, a former house of correction, police station and courthouse-turned-visitor attraction.
And exhibits include Dr Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Crank Vibrator, which dates back to 1890 and resembles an old-fashioned egg whisk.
This may look like an early hair dryer with different attachments, but it is actually a vintage ‘self-massager’, used by women as a vibrator in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
Dr. Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Crank (1890) Vibrator, which resembles an archaic egg whisk, is now on display at Littledean Jail, Forest of Dean,
According to Philip Larkin, sex began in 1963, between the end of the Lady Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP.
But this collection of Victorian vibrators shows self-pleasuring has been going on for a whole lot longer than that.
Littledean Jail owner and curator Andy Jones, 51, described the assortment of sex toys as ‘a fascinating insight into women’s pleasure during Victorian times’.
The ‘ACME’ hand-held vibrator shows self-pleasuring has been going on for a whole lot longer than we originally believed
When compared to today’s vibrators such as the pink plastic rampant rabbit, the ACME is certainly a lot less… girly
But despite its pleasurable connotations, the modern-style vibrator was actually invented by respectable Victorian doctors.
‘Pelvic massage’ was a common treatment for female hysteria during the Victorian era.
However, doctors found the process of administering the massage by hand tiring and time-consuming, and so devised a device to do the job for them.
Dr Joseph Mortimer Granville patented an electromechanical vibrator around 1880, a story told in the 2011 film Hysteria, featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Despite its pleasurable connotations, the modern-style vibrator was actually invented by respectable Victorian doctors
‘If you plug them in, the force is incredible. They’re loud and some of them look like hairdryers’
The vibrators come packed neatly in cases with a number of different attachments, and resembles an old-fashioned drill and its bits
While some of these contraptions now look like they belong more in a torture chamber than beneath the sheets, they serve as testament to the ingenuity of Victorian inventors.
The sex toys also offer a fascinating insight into the supposedly ‘prim and proper’ Victorian world, in which some families would supposedly cover up table legs since they were seen as suggestive and risque.
‘If you plug them in, the force is incredible,’ Jones said. ‘They’re loud and some of them look like hairdryers.
‘I would imagine it would have been quite a painful exercise, judging by what I’ve seen of them, like having a kango hammer pressed against your body.’