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Yup - Vibrators were mainstream in the early 1900!

by Ariane Fortin 1 comment

Did you ever wonder how vibrators were sold in the early 20th century?

Did you even know vibrators existed  around the 1900’s? We are happy to present to you: a brief history of how vibrators came into American households (with a bonus peak at our very own antique vibrator)!

First of all, just a few words to let you know that vibrators were first ‘’officially’’ created by doctors to treat female hysteria (which isn’t a real thing by the way), but that’s a whole nother blog post we have to write. In the meantime, if you are interested in reading more about the subject, we highly recommend the book: Buzz - The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy by Hallie Lieberman.

So, HOW did the 1900 woman get her hands on a vibrator and through which magic trick did the companies that sold them did it, while being in a super strict and anti obscenity era? They simply weren’t marketed as sex toys, but rather as health, beauty or relaxation devices. Sex toys actually started to be sold for what they were only around the late 60’s and 70’s. But in the early 20th century, they were introduced in homes through classy household magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal, Modern Woman and even the Sears catalogue! The electrification of households also helped in the introduction. Sexologist Carol Queen, founder of Good Vibrations, explains that: ‘’The vibrator was one of the first electric gadget available, along with the sewing machine, toaster, and fan.’’ No wonder than, that well-known household brand Hamilton Beach (you know, the company that makes your blender) was one of the first to sell and advertise vibrators under the -oh so amazing- name Try New Life.

Hamilton Beach Try New Lif (Type A) - Antique Vibrator Authenticity certificate


In an article written for the Cambridge CoreHallie Lieberman explains that by advertising vibrators as health or relaxation devices companies could slip these ads into lifestyle magazines and mainstream newspaper past the censors, while providing a user manual to the client that hinted some specific sexual use.

Moon Massage Vibrator Advertisement - Little home doctor

Moreover, these devices were sold not only to women, but targeted pretty much anyone! Men and women, both young and old could benefit from a vibrator, because they were often advertised as being a cure for - almost - everything: deafness, fatigue, weak bladder, sore throat, muscles and chest, and much more!

Hamilton Beach Antique Vibrator - User manual - Lists of treatable diseases


 Plus, they were easy to sell within the small appliances frenzy that came with the electrification of homes.
Toaster, sewing machine, vibrator? Check! 🗸
En résumé, that’s how vibrators made their way into households, by being a ‘’health’’ device that was so much more! 😉
Now, because we are kind of history nerds, we do have our very own antique vibrator, bought on Ebay in 2015. And it is the marvelous Hamilton Beach Try New Life (Type A).

Antique Vibrator - Hamilton Beach Try New Life box


As you can see, it is a bit scary looking - no, we have not tried to plug it in - there is the main device (quite heavy actually) which comes with various heads that provide different massage ''benefits'' depending on the pain you are experiencing.  As written in the manual: ‘’All leading sanitariums are using and recommending it for their patients.’’


Hamilton Beach - User Manual - Various Applicators UseHamilton Beach - Antique Vibrator User Manual

Reassuring, isn’t it? 🙄


Check out our sources for more info:

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1 comment

21 Jul 2020 Deluxtoys
I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorite’s web page list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think. Thanks.

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