Everything You Need To Know About Sex Doll History


Get Nerdy And Dirty With Sex Doll History

Truth is stranger than fiction, and sex doll history is no different.

The story behind today’s modern love dolls involves legendary poets, horny Dutchmen, Nazis, Barbie, and even Howard Stern.

The cast of characters is as diverse as the set of Wet Hot American Summer, which is why it’s so incredible.

Whether or you own a sex doll, are thinking of buying one, or just like niche history, you’re going to love sex doll history.

You’ve heard the phrase “Dutch wife,” right?

Dutch sailors may have made the first dolls, but they definitely weren’t the first to think of the idea.

In fact, the concept of using an inanimate object for sexual pleasure has been around for centuries.

Have we piqued your curiosity yet?

Let’s take a journey through time and learn about the history of sex dolls.

Pygmalion’s Happy Ending

Pygmalion And Galatea by Elisabeth Caren, 2014-2015 | Source: Ecaren Photo

Ovid’s crowning epic, Metamorphosis, is largely considered the first example of sex dolls in recorded history.

The Roman poet wrote his capstone work in 8 AD.

It tells the story of Pygmalion, a sculptor who carved a beautiful woman from ivory and named her Galatea.

Ovid described Pygmalion as a man who cared little for women. However, the sculptor admired his work so much that he fell in love with her.

Pygmalion bathed the statue, fed it, and slept with it — literally and sexually.

Talk about a hard-on, right?

Ba-dum tiss.

Then, on an important Roman holiday celebrating the feast of Venus, Pygmalion begged the goddess to bring his stone lover to life.

Venus took pity on the sculptor and used her powers to turn Galatea into a real-life woman.

She married Pygmalion and his creation, and they later had a son.

Pygmalion’s story just goes to show that dreams do come true.

Here’s the English translation if you want to read the full story.

Sheela-na-gigs Sexual Healing

It’s a guarantee that you haven’t heard of sheela-na-gigs.

During the Middle Ages, people carved these small stone images into the sides of Romanesque churches.

Although researchers date sheela-na-gigs between the 11th and 12th centuries, it’s thought the carvings are even older than the buildings they decorated.

Sex Doll History - Sheela-na-gig Carving
Source: spiritofthegreenman.co.uk

Described as “quasi-erotic,” the carvings depict old women squatting and spreading their vulvas apart.

Yes, that’s right.

You didn’t read that wrong.

These strange carvings of women happily touching themselves are on church exteriors in Spain, France, Britain, and Ireland, where scholars believe they originated.  

But what does this have to do with sex doll history?

Because of this:

Legends surrounding sheela-na-gigs claimed that caressing the large, exaggerated vulvas granted healing powers to whoever touched them.

And, since it was the Middle Ages and there wasn’t much else to do, people flocked to these churches in droves.

Visitors traveled for miles just to cop a feel — and probably do a little more than that.

17th Century Sex Doll History

Dutch Wives

Today’s sex dolls are direct descendants of Dutch wives, and we can thank 17th-century Dutch sailors for that. 

However, when it comes to sailors and the history of sex at sea, there is just too much to unpack, and not all of it’s pretty.

Seaman spent most of their lives on the water. Depending on the ship and crew, that meant very little contact with women for months.

You can imagine how hard that was.

Source: Bitserscarfiotti

So eventually, a crew of Dutch sailors got creative.

Their imaginative solution?

Sewing old rags and clothes and stuffing them into the shape of a female.

These early sex dolls had different names:
  • “Dame de voyage” in French
  • “Dutch wives” in English
  • “Dama de viaje” in Spanish

And believe it or not, the idea caught on like wildfire.

Dutch wives became so popular that not only did they become a hot commodity, but they became a status symbol for the wealthy.

“Traveling Whores”

But while a market for Dutch Wives arose everywhere, no one loved them more than Rangaku-period Japanese sailors. 

The Dutch had no trouble selling the dolls to the Japanese, and some people still call sex dolls “Dutch wives.”

Soon, however, Japan developed its own dolls. Azumagata Ningyo, a substitute wife — aka female dolls, were made from materials like tortoise shells, cloth, and leather.

Do-ningyou, or tahi-joro — unceremoniously called “traveling whores” — were smaller dolls resembling young girls made with a velvet vulva.

Stone Cold Love

History has plenty of stories of “Pygmalionism,” where people fall in love with statues.

And although the details in some records are a little fuzzy and lean closer to fiction, there are a few verified accounts:

  • In St. Petersburg, police arrested a young man for trespassing after paying a late-night visit to a nymph sculpture he fell in love with.
  • In 1877, a French gardener fell in love with a statue of Venus and tried to have sex with it, but was cock blocked by the cops.

Modern Sex Doll History

Sex doll history has come a long way since Dutch Wives.

However, the materials and design for sex dolls moved a little more slowly.

By the 20th century, sex doll creators started thinking of new ways to make them feel more lifelike.

But still, realistic sex dolls as we know them wouldn’t develop for many more decades.

These new technologies were a considerable improvement from stone statues and old clothes.

The first record of a manufactured sex doll comes from 1908.

Check out this quote from Iwan Bloch’s The Sexual Life of Our Time:

“In this connection, we may refer to fornicatory acts effected with artificial imitations of the human body, or of individual parts of that body.

There exist true Vaucansons in this province of pornographic technology, clever mechanics who, from rubber and other plastic materials, prepare entire male or female bodies, which, as hommes or dames de voyage, subserve fornicatory purposes.

More especially are the genital organs represented in a manner true to nature. Even the secretion of Bartholin’s glands is imitated, by means of a ‘pneumatic tube’ filled with oil.

Similarly, by means of fluid and suitable apparatus, the ejaculation of the semen is imitated. Such artificial human beings are actually offered for sale in the catalog of certain manufacturers of ‘Parisian rubber articles.'” [i]

You can’t blame these guys for not at least trying to make lifelike sex dolls.

Detail from Alan Beeton’s Reposing (c1929). Photo: Andrew Norman/The Fitzwilliam Museum, Image Library | Source: The Guardian

Sex Dolls As Companions

In 1916, Alma Mahler dumped her boyfriend, an Austro-Hungarian artist named Oskar Kokoschka.

It would be nice to think he took it well. Maybe give himself a few weeks to mourn the end of his relationship, find a few good rebounds, throw himself into his art, and move on.

Of course, that’s not what Kokoschka did.

After the breakup, he “lost all desire to go through the ordeal of love again” and commissioned a custom sex doll resembling his ex.

Kokoschka gave intricate instructions to Mahler’s dressmaker, including details of her appearance and the touch of her skin.

The result?

Kokoschka’s doll was very furry, with skin resembling a soft plush toy than a person.

History still isn’t sure what the artist thought. Some say he was disappointed, but others describe him as “enraptured.”

Either way, Kokoschka kept the doll, going so far as to draw several pictures of it.

Photo: Henriette Moos, Oskar Kokoschkas Alma-Puppe als Venus, 1919 © Privatsammlung, Courtesy Richard Nagy Ltd., London | Source: Sexual History Tour

Nazi Sex Dolls

Sex doll history took a turn around WWII.

They say that wartime is the best time for technological advancement, and that also goes for love dolls.

So why did the Nazis make the first modern sex doll?

Source: Remarkable History

It goes like this:

SS leader Heinrich Himmler started a program called the “Borghild Field-Hygiene Project.”

The idea was to prevent “unnecessary losses” because so many Nazi troops were dying from STDs.

The Nazis called the program “Gheime Reichssache,” or, “More secret than top secret.”

The Nazis enlisted sculptor Arthur Rink, who noted that SS troops wanted “round and full” breasts.

And Danish SS doctor Olen Hannussen, who oversaw the program’s day-to-day, pushed for “a rose hip form, that would grip well.”

Rink made three model types:
  • A had a 168 cm bust
  • B had a 176 cm bust
  • C had a 182 cm bust

And everyone wanted a “cheeky and naughty” look based on a popular actress named Käth von Nagy.

However, Nagy refused to let the SS use her resemblance.

Dr. Hannussen recommended an “artificial face of lust” because he believed the soldiers would be more drawn to it.

Franz Tschakert, a technician, supported that idea. He said,

“The doll has only one purpose and she should never become a substitute for the honorable mother at home.

When the solider makes love to a Borgild, is has nothing to do with love.

Therefore the face of our anthropomorphic sex-machine should be exactly how Weininger described the common wanton’s face.”

So in 1941, they debuted Type B. The tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, long-legged model reflected the Nazi’s idea of beauty.

Inspired by the SS’s sex doll, Ruth Handler used the model as inspiration to create the first Barbie.

Source: Remarkable Travels
Body Total, sideways. The first Borghild-doll presented to Himmler in 1941 at the SS-Hygiene-Institute in Berlin. | Source: Remarkable Travels
Käthe von Nagy | Source: Remarkable History

Sex Dolls In The Post-War World

After World War II, an underground demand for sex dolls ramped up, and the heightened popularity rapidly improved the dolls’ quality.

In 1968, the first ads for sex dolls appeared in porn magazines. The same year, the US government legalized the shipping sex toys through the mail.

Materials like vinyl, latex, and silicone began in the 1970s. Silicone became the choice material for sex dolls. It gave love dolls a much more realistic feel. And as a bonus, it allowed for beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing designs

But improved quality and appearance meant a steep price tag. Because of this, more affordable blow-up dolls remained common.

By the 1980s, blow-up dolls were all over sex shops, despite looking as comical as sheela-na-gigs and only good for a few uses.

Eventually, blow-up dolls developed a reputation as a joke gift, a prop, or a gag for laughs.

Sex Dolls for All

Even though silicone and other materials heightened the experience and look of sex dolls, they still seemed off.

That all changed in the late 1990s with Matt McMullen, the founder of the first major sex doll company in the world, RealDoll.

During the early days of the internet, McMullen, a talented artist, built a hyper-realistic female mannequin and documented his progress online.

As more people followed, McMullin received more questions about its genitalia, which his model lacked. However, the flood of messages gave him an idea.

“I started getting all these e-mails from people who wanted to have sex with my sculptures. So I changed the design. I said, hey, if it’s going to be a love doll, it’s going to be a love doll. And it kind of took off from there.”

Soon, he made a realistic silicone sex doll. It didn’t take long to make sales, but business stayed slow since few knew about his product.

Sex doll history took another major turn after Howard Stern asked McMullen and one of his dolls on his radio show.

Allegedly, Stern had sex with McMullen’s sex doll to attest to its realism. In an email posted to RealDoll’s website, the radio talk show legend said, 

“Best sex I ever had. I could fall in love with that thing.”

The Rest Is History

Now, sex doll manufacturers can be found around the world. They produce a wide array off choices, from a cute sex doll, a beautiful Jasmine sex doll, and an elf love doll to name some. These love dolls are surely here to entertain.

And not only that, but sex doll brothels are popping up in many countries as well.

Although they’re still not mainstream, facts about sex dolls are rising in popularity and becoming more common in discussions about sex.

Movies and shows like West World and Lars and the Real Girl have started a dialogue about love dolls that goes beyond their use as sex toys.

Sex robots with AI technology are already here, and they will only serve to create more discussion about consent, morality, and sexual health.

We’ve come a long way since Ovid’s epic poem and cloth dolls.

But in the world of sex doll history, it’s only just beginning.

Sex Doll History, Erotica, And More From Earth Erotic

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  • Alicea, Miko. “15th Century Archives.” Sexual History Tour, 29 Nov. 2016, www.sexualhistorytour.com/category/15th-century/.
  • Beck, Julie. “A (Straight, Male) History of Sex Dolls.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12 Feb. 2020, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/a-straight-male-history-of-dolls/375623/.
  • BlackBook. BlackBook, 3 Mar. 2010, bbook.com/nightlife/sex-dolls-a-timeline/.
  • Bloch, Iwan. “Sexual Life of Our Time.” Google Books, Allied Book Company, books.google.com/books?id=YHMm5BObHfUC&pg=PT660#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  • “Sex Doll.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 May 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_doll.
  • “The Sheela Na Gig Project.” The Sheela Na Gig Project, www.sheelanagig.org/wordpress/.

13 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About Sex Doll History

  1. jollygreengiant says:

    I’d like to see a more in depth look at sex dolls in Japan because they seem to be the leaders in all of this.

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  7. carl0sj3nkins says:

    Alryt that was hella history! So can someone tell me where to find this goddess Venus? I need my doll come to life

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