Friday, 2 April 2010

Eighteenth-Century Dildos

On 26 March the BBC reported that two eighteenth-century dildos in a leather-lined case had been sold at an Essex auction for £3,600 [ca. A$6,000].

The wooden items, believed to be French, were auctioned at Brentwood Antiques Auction on Thursday [25 March 2010]. Auctioneer Wendy Wood said: 'You might laugh but it's a good opportunity for investment. You won't see another one in a long time.' An anonymous bidder bought the pair which come with their own leather-lined case. One of the objects measures 10in (25cm) and the other 11in (28cm). Staff at the auction described the sex toys as 'extraordinary and exceptionally rare'.

The description provided in the Brentwood Antiques Auction catalogue (already taken down) read:

Lot Number: 340. Erotica. An extraordinary and exceptionally rare 'Travel Godermiche' being a pair of wooden phallus contained within a fitted kid leather covered Treen case with strap fleurs-de-lys decoration, one phallus 10 inches and with testicles and the other 11 inches and without testicles. The case, although having a re-lined interior appears to have age commensurate with those of the phallus and both are thought to date from the late 18th century and are probably French.

Although the dildos attracted a lot of press attention after the sale, very little appears online beyond the above description and six photos—seemingly distributed by Brentwood Antiques themselves.

Prior to the auction the Brentwood Gazette carried a far more informative piece by Iain Johnson. It reads, in part,

The antiques, soon to go on sale at Brentwood Antiques Auction in North Road, are thought to originate in 18th century France. Experts believe the set of rosewood shafts travelled around with an aristocrat during the days of the French Revolution.

TV antiques expert Paul Hetchin described the saucy heirloom as "extremely rare". "It is an extraordinary item. It fits within the term 'erotica' and could be of interest to a collector or a museum of erotica or sex. To find they are wood is very rare."

He added: "It is such an unknown quantity, so it would be hard to be sure how much they could sell for. These will be interesting to people that collect erotica. Beautiful ivory boxes of pornographic images are quite common but this is very rare.

"They date from the late 18th century and are likely to be from the upper classes because they were very expensive to produce and would have been out of reach of the masses. They would have been used as a travelling companion as it were, so a lady would take it with her when she went away."

Having been commissioned in France over two centuries ago, the adult toys later found their way into the hands of an Austrian author who specialised in sex paraphernalia. With "free love" at its height in the 1970s, the erotic writer gave them as a gift to an Italian businessman who cherished them until they were put under the watch of Brentwood Antiques Auction's Wendy Wood.

The experienced auctioneer revealed that only once has she seen something similar, which was made of ivory. She added: "There is a big market for erotica and I have no qualms about selling it. You can get more photographs than anything else but this is a rare item. "I am expecting quite a large market for them."

UPDATE 7 November 2015: for "More Eighteenth-Century Dildos" see here.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

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