Dil-dos and Dil-don'ts: a totally grown up and mature look at sex toys through history

Lovehoney may have made ordering a 12-speed Squirting Exorcet less anxiety-inducing than your average Starbucks order (Venti? Grande? Pumpkin? Bwargh!) but it didn't always used to be this way, sisters. Here's a look back at great moments from dildonic history…

  1. World's oldest dildo: Discovered in a cave in Germany, this Ice Age Pocket Rocket is 28,000 years old. Archeologists only sussed its purpose when they recognised the ‘distinctive' line drawn around one end. What all schoolchildren would immediately identify from biro drawings on their school books. Talk about history coming alive, ahem…
  2. Ancient Greece: First official record of dildonics. Merchants sold items called “Olisbos” to single ladies at the market place. What with the girls Olisbossing and the men off mano-a-mano wrestling, it's amazing the Greeks didn't just plain die out after a couple of generations.
  3. Cleopatra and the Angry Bees: Not the name of an indie band that supported the Lemonheads (probably), but a persistent bit of historical gossip about the Queen of the Nile. The rumour goes that she requested that a gourd was loaded with furious bees, thereby inventing the world's first vibrator. The story is probably entirely apocryphal, but so was Carry on Cleo and that was GREAT.
  4. 3rd Century AD: Wasp Stings and Strap-Ons. The Kama Sutra has some interesting suggestions if the gentleman caller isn't terribly well-blessed in the how-d'you-do department. One hint suggested rubbing the old chap with wasp stingers, and if that didn't get you in the mood, why not pop it into a ‘Apadravyas', a strap-on made of ivory, gold, or for the splinter-blasé, wood. 
  5. The Renaissance: As you can imagine, diddly-dos from the Renaissance were as baroque and fancy as all-get-out. The word ‘dildo' itself appeared around this time, probably coming from the Italian ‘diletto', meaning delight. Fun fact: it is impossible not to sing the word ‘diletto' to the tune of the Cornetto ad in your head: Just one diletto, give it to me…
  6. 1880s: Hysteria! The Victorians made some truly terrifying devices to treat poor, mad women suffering from ‘hysteria' (symptoms include: "weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia and anxiety", basically, ‘women's things'). Heck, whatever excuse you needed to lock the scullery door, loosen your corsets and deploy “Dr Macaura's Pulsocon Hand Crank Vibrator.” You can still find devices like this in the sock drawer of some female Steampunk enthusiasts. 
  7. 1960s: “Leaning Up Against the Washing Machine” What housewives did to put a smile on their face when hubby's third lunchtime martini took its toll. Sadly not very portable, before long handheld ‘neck massagers' would soon come along and put the ‘aaaah' into ‘AA' battery.
  8. The ‘90s: Ann Summers' Leaping Dolphin and Ears of Corn vibrators. Women over 30 will recognise these as the first wave of  “Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With” aimed at female shoppers - unlike the big pink veiny things that men ordered for the missus out the back of Fiesta. Women under 30 will rightly wonder why the Spice Girls generation frotted themselves with plastic vegetables and glittery aquatic mammals. All I can say is: it was a strange time, feminism-wise.
  9. Rampant Rabbit: Finally! The Jillin'-off device that Sex and The City made into a star and ‘intimate massagers' no longer a dirty secret. Fun fact: the ‘ears' have a little rabbit's face on them due to being designed in Japan, where it's illegal for sex toys to look ‘realistic'.