Vibrating medical devices have been used to massage sore, tired muscles for over one hundred years. Hand-held vibrating devices, often billed as “personal massagers” can still be found in many mail-order catalogs aimed at the elderly. Not necessarily a sex toy, the vibrator has a rich American history as a home medical device.
The Vibrator Museum is one man’s valiant attempt to document the history of vibrators.

A Brief History of Vibrators

According to the museum’s website, the vibrator was first invented in the 1860’s as an aid in the treatment of “hysteria” in women.

The Museum

The Museum, which can be viewed on line at vibratormuseum, contains a small but fascinating display of photos of vibrators from the curator’s own private collection.

The Categories

With categories like Hand Crank, Air Powered, Battery Powered and Electric, the curator has neatly organized photographs and all known information on each vibrator featured.

According to the website, the collection available for viewing on line is only a small part of the curator’s actual collection.

Antique and Vintage Vibrators

Many of the vibrators featured at the Vibrator Museum contain a large “thumb” with a ball on the end and look as though they certainly could help relax a knotty muscle.

Others resemble thumbs much less than they do unmentionable (at least by this author in this venue!) body parts and lead one to wonder where they might have been 70 years ago.

Still others are shaped like tiny globes and miniature canister-type vacuum cleaners. Perhaps the strangest is what appears to be a statuette of an unclothed woman on her hands and knees, indicating that perhaps this particular model was made especially for men’s physical needs rather than women’s.

Vibrator Names throughout History

Some of the electric vibrators featured at the Vibrator Museum are blandly named, such as the Barker Universal Portable Vibrator, while others have flashier names like the Gyro-Lator or the Vibro-Electra.

As one might expect, the hand cranked vibrators are less glamorously titled than their electric brethren, and the catchiest vibrator featured in this category is Macaura’s Blood Circulator, formerly known as Macaura’s Pulsocon.

In the air powered vibrator category, the names are boring enough to make the Barker Universal Portable Vibrator sound interesting. The battery powered vibrators names are so uninteresting that they don’t merit mention. This is not to say, however, that the devices themselves are unworthy of the visitor’s attention.