A night at the vibrator museum

Early vibrators were hand-cranked, two-person jobs -- and prescribed by doctors. How far we've come since then

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published May 20, 2012 12:00AM (EDT)
    (Antique Vibrator Museum)
(Antique Vibrator Museum)

I can now say that I've used a turn-of-the-century vibrator -- on my hand, but still.

The silver, hand-cranked contraption is usually kept behind glass at Good Vibrations' Antique Vibrator Museum in San Francisco -- but staff sexologist Carol Queen made a rare exception. "This is very special," she whispered, unlocking the case and carefully pulling out Dr. Johansen's Auto Vibrator, a relic from 1904. The "auto" part is not so much: It was a two-person job, with her having to crank the device's handle to get it thrumming. Pressing my finger tips to its inch-wide circular platform of pleasure, I was pleasantly surprised by its power.

As I was by the two other vintage vibrators that I got to try out -- the White Cross Electric Vibrator from 1917, which has a pronged aperture that makes it seem like the ancestor of Jimmyjane's Form 2, and the Beautysafe Vibrator from the 1940s, which is reminiscent in look, feel and sou...

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Tracy Clark-Flory

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