Humans have been looking for ways to help them get off since the dawn of civilization. And while the technology has certainly evolved, the toys on the shelf of your favorite neighborhood adult store today aren’t too dissimilar from the toys adults have been playing with for the past 200 or so years. Side note: Treat this as an adult holiday buying guide for that extra touch of festivity.

Goat Eye Cock Ring

Cock rings have been around since 1200 B.C., but what happened when your ancient ancestors needed a little extra staying power before there were things like rubber, silicone, or stainless steel? Goat eyelids. No, you read that right: real and actual goat eyelids. The premium joints even came with the goat’s eyelashes still attached, for her pleasure and so forth.

I don’t know why on Earth you’d want to, but if you have the hankering for a little au naturel rumpus enhancement, you can still find authentic goat eye cock rings online. I honestly don’t know which mental image is worse: the thought of sticking your bits into goat eyeballs, or rolling up on a herd of one eye-goats.

A Little Bit of the Ol’ Handhabunging

As it turns out, your Victorian-era aunties and uncles weren’t nearly as prudish as you thought. They were actually really big into erotic massage parlors, only back in the day, they called them doctor’s offices.”Hysteria” (literally translated as “womb disease”) was an actual medical diagnosis dating back to the times of Galen. The “symptoms” included anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, nervousness, erotic fantasies, feelings of heaviness in the lower abdomen, and “wetness between the legs”.

Basically, the accepted science for over 2000 years was that poor, neglected wimmens would eventually go crazy due to lack of attention to their lady parts. The cure? A “fine and gentle” vaginal massage performed by a trained medical professional (or any old perv who could find a white coat), until hysterical paroxysm (fancy talk for “orgasm”) was achieved. As a 1653 medical compendium directed:

“This kind of stimulation with the finger is recommended by Galen and Avicenna, among others, most especially for widows, those who live chaste lives, and female religious … it is less often recommended for very young women, public women, or married women, for whom it is a better remedy to engage in intercourse with their spouses.”

Obviously, the entire theory of hysterical paroxysm is archaic, patriarchal bullshit, but the 19th century race to “cure” hysteria paved the way for the next 150 years of sex toy technology.

Ride the Pony

Also, props to the Princess of Wales for knowing exactly what was up.

This genteel pre-cursor to the Sybian machine was marketed as a way to cure everything from gout to liver disease. In essence, the Vigor Horse Action Saddler was a spring-loaded rocking horse: the more the rider gyrated, the more the saddle vibrated, until all of your happy places felt healthy and inspirited.

Steam Power

If “fine and gentle” wasn’t quite your cup of meat, this steam-powered conveyance — based on the design of a train piston — was guaranteed to get you to climax, while possibly rupturing some vital internal organs in the process. While there are still plenty of piston-style dildos on the market today, the steam-powered versions had a fairly brief shelf-life; these bad boys got hot, uncomfortably hot, like exploding-into-metal-shrapnel-mid-thrust hot. Bug not a feature hot.

There was some front-end steam-powered action for the daring men of leisure of the time too. In 1883, a British physician named J. Mortimer Granville came up with this steam-powered, crotch-gyrating mechanical monstrosity that vibrated, while pushing and tugging and, uh, yeah. Unless the idea of a detached penis and/or a shattered pelvis really gets your juices going, this seems like a horrible idea in every conceivable way, except maybe one.

50 Shades of Earl Grey

Much like the vibrators of the era, there were some pretty kinky-ass devices officially marketed under slightly more socially acceptable auspices. The “Combined Lifting and Spanking Machine” was sold as a “prank machine” for use in various fraternal initiation ceremonies.

Complete with hand grips, this spring-loaded paddle delivered quite the smack on the rump to naughty Victorians in need of a little sexy-time punishment. Hey, if your great-great-grands were into channeling their inner Marquis de Sade, who are you to judge?

Let There Be Light

With the electric age, came several advancements in vibrator technology. As early as 1898, the vibrators that hit the market operated on basically the same mechanical principals as the high-tech Bluetooth equipped models you can buy today.

The versatile White Cross Electric Vibrator kit featured a vibrator with a rotating head, and a couple of dozen fun-looking attachments. Fully portable, it ran on 12 dry cell batteries if you were looking to get your rocks off on the go, as well as a cord you hook right into the light-socket for a little extra voltage.

Not to be outdone, the No. 4 Victor Massage Outfit was basically an electric his-and-hers model with a vibrator complete with multiple speed settings on one side and a pneumatic vacuum attachment on the other capable or providing an “inhaling or exhaling” depending on your pleasure. Sharing is indeed caring.

Borghilda, The Super Creepy Aryan Goddess Sex Doll

Fucking Nazis, man. You cannot make this shit up.

Back in 1940, in an effort to mitigate outbreaks of syphilis among Nazi troops, Heinrich Himmler commissioned top-secret Project Borghild to create “synthetic comforters” (read: blow-up dolls) designed to keep troops away from prostitutes. In the true spirit of German engineering — combined with the fact that the Nazis were completely and utterly batshit crazy — not any old blow-up doll would do. Himmler’s team spent a full two years perfecting the ultimate Aryan “gynoid” to be distributed to horny combat troops across the Reich.

The design team’s criteria for this new ”perfect automaton of lust” included not only creating realistic and hygienic (“a hairless torso was both scintillating and much easier to sanitize”) synthetic flesh, they also had to make the doll appealing enough to keep German soldiers in their tents and out of the beds of “foreign harlots.”

Arthur Rink, one of the designers on the project later wrote that coming up with the skin-friendly polymer was easy — it was modeling the perfect “Nordic ideal of beauty” that was the challenge. The group spent the better part of a year arguing about every conceivable cosmetic detail: breast shape, muscle tone, facial expression, and even hairstyle had to be perfect.

“The idea of our hairdresser to give the doll a ‘Schnecken Frisur’ (earphones of hair) was rejected by Hanussen. He wanted her to have ‘a boyish hair-do’ to underline that Borghild was ‘part of the fighting forces’ – a field-whore and not an honourable Mother.”

The final product was so impressive, Himmler envisioned every Nazi soldier being issued one. He inquired on the possibility of an automated version for officers and high-ranking party members. To Himmler’s dismay, however, Nazi soldiers were so terrified of the embarrassment that would come with being captured with an inflatable concubine, they refused to carry them.

While the Aryan gynoid wasn’t the first inflatable sex doll ever created, it was certainly the most realistic, and literally a half-century or so before its time. Today’s uber-realistic sex-toys, especially those modeled after real-life porn stars, are still using updated versions of the same polymers used to create Borghilda. And all else being equal, you still probably don’t want to get caught with one.

Photos via Google Patents, Arthur Rink