Sunday, September 6, 2009

Department of Quotation: Condoms

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Susan reports:

London, 1724

From The Machine, or Love's Preservative (anon.)

By this Machine* secure, the willing Maid
Can taste Love's Joys, nor is she more afraid
Her swelling Belly should, or squalling Brat
Betray the Luscious Pastime she has been at.

*an 18th century term for a condom

Left: "Retail Traders Not Affected by the Shop Tax", 1787, from the British Cartoon Collection of the Library of Congress.


Vanessa Kelly said...

Look at all those happy women buying their French letters! Tax-free!

Loretta Chase said...

I love this print! Enlarged, the detail is hilarious.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

TNHG images always warrant close inspection. Not sure everyone felt this way, but I was surprised to learn about "modern" birth-control methods practiced prior to the 20th C. I appreciate a novel that helps us understand what women, especially, have done historically to determine their paths, especially in trying not to fall victim to societal expectations. I'm a believer, however, that not all men wanted their women pregnant and w/no intelligence or ambition. Maybe most, but there had to be couples who enjoyed the childless state, the idea of being partners. Allll that said, if men today still complain about wearing condoms, I wonder what the rate of use was in previous centuries, and whether women even knew they existed.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Isn't that picture a hoot? *g*

The more closely you look at it, the more things there are to see. As Loretta and I were saying, 18th-19th century cartoons are so detailed, with so many little extra jokes buried in the drawings, that they're kind of like those puzzle pages in the old "Highlights for Children" magazines in dentists' offices.

Except they're for grown-ups.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Oh, Michelle -- I can see we're going to have to do a blog on Condoms of History. They've been around for ages, with jokey references in Shakespeare and earlier. Of course they weren't as efficient, being made of linen or animal intestines (ick), but they WERE available, primarily to the wealthy/upper class gentlemen in cities.

Alas, despite this nifty little poem, they were primarily used by men who wished to protect themselves against disease while visiting the local bagnio -- which is why there are so many jokey references, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Using them for birth control comes much later. In fact, I'm afraid that many of the earlier men would have thought of using a condom with their wives as shameful and insulting -- you know, treating her like a whore.

But we'll save this for another date. And then we'll include pictures of historical condoms, too, complete with their sporty ribbon bows....

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