Speaking of Steampunk Masturbatory Devices…

Oh yeah, so Anachronaut gave me this for my birthday:


According to this Brief History of Sex Toys:

“Developed by an American physician, George Taylor, M.D., it was a large, cumbersome, steam-powered apparatus. Taylor recommended it for treatment of an illness known at the time as “female hysteria.” Hysteria, from the Greek for “suffering uterus,” involved anxiety, irritability, sexual fantasies, “pelvic heaviness” and “excessive” vaginal lubrication — in other words, sexual arousal. However, since it was the Victorian era, women were not considered to be at all sexual and it was therefore deemed a disease. Physicians of that era treated hysteria by massaging sufferers’ vulvas until they experienced dramatic relief through “paroxysm” (orgasm). Unfortunately, hysteria was a recurrent condition and repeated treatment was often necessary. Taylor touted his steam-driven massage device as speeding treatment while reducing physician fatigue.”

Does anyone know where this image actually came from? It’s been around for years. Of course it would be awesome if this were a real artifact from the 19th century, though I somehow doubt it. Someone told me once that it’s actually a scan from an old issue of a men’s magazine (Esquire, maybe?), and that this was a humorous illustrative prop for an article on the history of vibrators. If that’s the case, then whoever designed this masterpiece was ahead of their time. Or backwards in time, only on another timeline. Or whatever.

14 Responses to “Speaking of Steampunk Masturbatory Devices…”

  1. Mark Says:

    Ah, the original Steely Dan? :) My inner cynic keeps whispering that it looks oddly like a picture of some miscellaneous old apparatus with a dildo attachment not-especially-convincingly Photoshopped on, but I soooo don’t want him to be right!

    If it is indeed a steam-powered dildo, I do so wish it had an enormous funnel on it, for belching clouds of humid sex-fog into the doctor’s office and misting up his glasses/plastering that Brylcreemed combover to his glistening pate…just so as to make his pink-cheeked protests about it being a ‘purely medicinal procedure’ sound even more unconvincing when he staggered out of his office for a post-exorcism cuppa…

  2. Nadya Says:

    Mark: You win the “Best Coilhouse Comment of the Day” award.

  3. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Isn’t this sort o’ contraption big business these days? Minus ze SteamPunk cool.

  4. Seamyst Says:

    Much as I love the idea of steampunk, I would NOT want that anywhere near my lovely girly bits!

  5. Nick Says:

    It cooks your bratwurst from the inside!
    No more messy pots and pans!
    Now available from Sears & Roebuck.

  6. Michelle Says:

    Actually, that all sounds rather factual. Around that time, doctors really did treat women for “hysteria” as described through, essentially, masturbating them. Originally, the women went to the doctors office for the procedures and usually had to go to a special facility. The first sort of masturbation devices tended to use jets of water for stimulation. Hmm.

    Later on, doctors invented more portable devices that could be used for house calls. After a while, the original vibrator was invented! Found casually for sale in most women’s home magazines. It was one of the highest selling products of the time.

    I’m not sure why that particular one wasn’t picked up by the patent office or how real the image is. But the back story is all pretty accurate. Perhaps it was too cum-bersome (ahem) or too dangerous or something. Either way, the story is actually probably true. :)

    I just found this on Google Books:
    Sex World Records

    There’s a bizarre sort of sketch of this device saying that it is, actually, on display at that Museum of Unnatural Wonders. Perhaps someone just needs to find this place.

    Beneath the entry on the steam-powered vibrator, there’s an 1880s electric vibrator with photo and explanation, though.

  7. Michelle Says:

    My link didn’t work. *shakes fist at disallowed HTML*

    It’s on the top of page 36.

  8. Blayne Says:

    Steampowered vibrators? An anecdote from my favorite professor:

    While browsing the Toronto Antiques Market (back when it was more of an outdoor bazaar), he found an unmarked leather case. Inside was a cumbersome, steam powered vibrator – still with it’s original operation manual! The merchant was off his game that day, and let it go for a measly $20.00cnd.

    This find for my prof, as social historian of all things VD was a gold mine. A steam powered, vibrating gold mine.

  9. tDIYm Says:

    When I was an undergraduate, there was a song called “The Big Red Wheel” which described something I pictured to look kind of like this thing…ah, memories!

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  11. Jim O'Donnell Says:

    This indeed an interesting piece of machinery. It will not work as the main cylinder to the top right of the illustration is not free to oscillate, that is to follow the crank pin on the flywheel, which is shown driving the belt to the drive shaft and the reduction gear.
    There also appears to be a stroke adjustment system, along with a shut off valve.
    Does anyone want one of these?
    I am a machinist who builds steam engines for a hobby. I also hold a 20Mw steam plant operators certificate, so I do understand the safety issues concerned here.
    It would be a fun project to build, any takers.
    Contact this place and I authorize them to froward on my email contact.
    I too used to know the words to the ditty referred to “The Big Red Wheel”
    ‘….round and round went the bloody big wheel, in and out went the …… of steel
    dum de dum ….. and the bloody thing was driven by steam ‘

  12. Dharmapirate Says:

    I’ve seen pictures of porn star Sacha Grey experimenting with pneumaticaly driven diidos on webb site FuckingMachines.She looks frustrated with that technology and has taken as far is it will go.Sacha needs the power of steam It will give the same confidence as they once had in Baldwin Locomotives with their powerful pistons moving those large drive wheels. Sacha needs a Baldwin to drive her to new heights of orgasmic joy. I can hear her scream now. I volunter to be a fireman on that run,

  13. Mer Says:

    It’s Sasha Grey, dear.

  14. mary vogel lozinak Says:

    Real or not, it’s hysterical. Reminds me of the movie Wellville or something like that with Matthew Broderick. Dr. Kellogg