History of Sex Toys

Believe it or not, sex toys have been around much longer than you think. The history of sex toys isn’t something that has been widely studied, and as a result there is little information. However, the earliest known dildo was recently discovered in Germany and is believed to date back to the Palaeolithic age, which is approximately 28,000 years ago.

The stone was highly polished, carved in a lengthy phallic shape and found amongst a number of personal care items which led researchers to believe that this was a product used for sexual pleasure.

The History of Sex Toys – Greeks and Romans

The Greeks and Romans were much more accommodating as they provided literary and pictorial evidence of their sex toy enjoyment. In Aristophanes literary classic , the title character is frustrated by the lack of males available to satisfy the women during a time of war. She refers to the ‘eight fingered leather dildo’ which is shared amongst the females, thus providing some evidence of using products for self-pleasure. The Greeks also attempted to upgrade hard dildos of stone by baking them out of bread, and covering them with layers of leather and animal intestines to create a more natural feel.


The Romans on the other hand, are responsible for the creation of the double ended dildo which was often used in ceremonies, or shared with friends (as you do!).


History of Sex Toys – The Chinese

The Chinese were also thought to be great innovators in female masturbation. In the past, Chinese nobility were thought to have too many wives to regularly satisfy. To quell any concerns about their wives becoming sexually frustrated or being unfaithful, they would present them with elaborate penis substitutes. Furthermore, the Chinese also believed that wearing a cock ring would increase their chance of producing a male heir. It wasn’t uncommon to have these rings created from the eyelids of a goat, and with the eyelashes still attached to increase stimulation.


The History of Sex Toys – Hysteria

It was Doctors of the 13th Century who first recognised ‘hysteria’ and understood the importance of female pleasure. They often advised that females masturbate to relieve sexual tension using a dildo. However, attitudes had changed by the 16th century and females were advised to relieve tension by catering their husbands lust. This left a lot of females feeling dissatisfied, as intercourse rarely produces an orgasm on its own.

If catering to the husband’s manly lust failed to relieve ‘hysteria’, horseback riding was often recommended. However, by the 17th Century masturbation had been demonised as ‘self-abuse’ leading to a dramatic fall in the admitted use of the dildo, and those talking about them.


The History of Sex Toys – Media Influence

Fast forward to the 19th century. Fans of the movie Hysteria starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal will recall that the invention of the first mechanical vibrator wasn’t actually specifically for the female orgasm, but as a labour saving device.


The film is based on a true story and follows the journey of Dr Joseph Mortimer Granville. Granville lived in London during the Victorian era and worked alongside another physician who specialised in the treatment of ‘Hysteria’. Hysteria is a vaguely defined ailment which is easily recognised today as sexual frustration. The physicians believed that a woman’s display of mental or emotional distress was a sign that she needed sexual release, this took the form of genital massage which as you can imagine, proved to be very popular amongst clientele. However, for the physicians this caused unbearable hand cramping which led to the creation of the vibrator.

History of Sex Toys – The World’s First Vibrator


In the late 19th century, commercial electricity first began to enter homes which led to the appearance of electrical appliances. It was in 1880 that Granville patented the world’s first electromechanical vibrator. The vibrator was an immediate hit. The results were fast and reliable, the contraception was safe and the clients were happy. By 1903, vibrators were discreetly marketed as ‘personal massagers’ and women began to snap up the products for themselves.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the vibrator though. During the 1920’s vibes were stripped of their disguise in pornography films, stigmatised and became very difficult for shoppers to locate. They enjoyed a brief revival in the fifties and sixties due to the changing of attitudes towards female sexuality and masturbation.


With the emergence of Hitachi’s Magic Wand, positive perceptions of the vibrator began to increase and in 1984, the notorious rabbit vibrator was born.

History of Sex Toys – The First Rabbit Vibrator

The original rabbit vibrator was designed by a company called Vibratex. They were the first company to bring dual stimulation vibrators to the US market. Sales of the toy were strong, but it wasn’t until 1998 when the rabbit vibrator was featured on Sex and the City that things really took off for the rabbit.


History of Sex Toys – Bringing Sex Toys to the Mainstream Market

Sex companies rushed to capitalise on the ‘buzz’ for dual stimulation vibrators with the recognisable rabbit ear stimulator. However, what really brought the vibrator into the mainstream market was the creation of discreet online shopping. Sales of sex toys began to soar overall, with UK based Ann Summers reporting over 1 million rabbits sold in the first 12 months of their online debut. Further endorsements from celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Eva Longoria further cemented the Rabbit’s place in the Sex Toy Hall of Fame.

According to a recent survey of the British public. Almost 3 million of the UK’s population own a sex toy. Furthermore, the use and public perception of sex toys has changed a whole lot since the vibrator first made an appearance on the medical scene. Some sex toys are brightly coloured in a bid to attract female consumers, whilst others mimic everyday items such as a lipstick and makeup brushes. With our changing attitudes, people of all ages and sexes are feeling the benefits.