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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

12 June 2011

Condoms



There's been a bunch of talk about this first image on the Beau Monde loop this week (this is a yahoo group for Regency Romance writers). As the image doesn't appear to be available online, and I own Sex in Georgian England by A.D. Harvey, I thought I'd share it (sadly it's just a phone pic, as my scanner doesn't work with my new computer and I haven't got around to buying a new one).

Quality control at the condom warehouse, c.1744.

The man behind the table is a clergyman, who is apparently blessing the wares. The girl is blowing them up, looking for leaks.

Period condoms were made of sheep gut (intestine) and were sold in envelopes, inside boxes. They were dry, and had to be soaked in water before use (not exactly spontaneous) and they were not normally used to prevent pregnancy, but by men who didn't want to contract a disease from the whores they slept with.

The length of intestine was closed at one end with thread, and was held in place on the man's "yard" by a ribbon. They were expensive, and frequently were washed, dried, and reused (*shudder*).

Other tidbits: The English called them "French letters", but the French called them "English overcoats".

5 Comments:

Blogger Gerri Bowen said...

Very interesting, Isobel. I share you shudder.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Wow...what a visual...I think I almost threw up in my mouth! Thank goodness for scientific improvements in this field! Nice post!

7:00 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

I remember watching Desperate Romantics where Dante Gabriel Rossetti offered Millais the use of the community condom. I had the same reaction as Maria.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

Desperate Romantics was SOOOO good!

10:51 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Reusing condoms is one of the most fascinating things in this terrific post, Isobel, but it's not something you find in pastel-colored Regency Romances -- or at least in Romancelandia. I'm waiting for a brave author (a hoyden?) and editor to go for a reusing event in the middle of a love or sex scene.

4:59 PM  

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