Two French aristocrats, the Prince de Bourbon and his partner the Count de Bizemont, decided to introduce a new kind of “sophisticated” condom that holds a “je ne sais quoi”, so chic.
“We want to take the condom box and put it on the bedside table, without the need to shamely hid it away in some night table drawer.”
C.E. de Bourbon Parme
“Condoms protect everyone from disease, ours protect from tackiness. ”
G. de Bizemont
The origin of the word “condom” is still controversial: A legend which emerged during the Middle Ages claims that the origin of this name comes from the Latin word “condom”, meaning “receptacle”, “hidden”, or “covered”.
Quite interestingly, this is incorrect, since “receptacle” in Latin is “receptaculum”, “hidden” is “occultus”, and “cover” is “tego”.
People in the Middle Age obviously had a somewhat peculiar understanding of Latin…
1941, World War II
European and Asian militaries also provided their troops with condoms during the war. Even Nazi Germany did so, despite the fact that it outlawed all civilian use of condoms in 1941.
Partly because condoms were readily available, soldiers found a number of non-sexual uses for the devices, many of which are still used nowadays.
U.S. Army condoms were large, but were labeled “small” in order to intimidate the enemies into thinking that their opponents were more powerful.
1912, Julius Fromm
Latex condoms were invented in 1920, and required less labor than “cement-dipped” rubber condoms, which had to be smoothed by rubbing and trimming.
Latex condoms were also of better quality to consumer: they were stronger and thinner than rubber condoms, and had a five-year shelf life (compared to three months for rubber condoms).
In 1919, Frederick Killian initiated hand-dipping from natural rubber latex in Ohio. The latex condoms had the advantage of ageing less quickly and being thin and odorless.
1876, Latex in Southeast Asia
In 1876, the explorer Henry Wickham created the first rubber plantations in Ceylon, to compete with the monopoly of Brazil on the production of latex.
From then on, rubber plantations were developed across Southeast Asia.
1868, Victor Hugo
The French term for condom – capote anglaise – can be literally translated into “English hooded overcoat”.
On the other hand the English call the condom “French letters”.
In French Literature, the French term for “condom” appears in a famous reference about the house of Mr. Victor Hugo :
“Leon Daudet, who accompanied me and who attended the opening of the house of Hugo, said that the cabinets were stacked with “English Capotes” of huge size… and it was embarrassing to hide them in the presence of Mrs. Hugo… !”
1839, Charles Goodyear
At that time, the condom was not yet disposable. Indeed, condoms had a five-year guarantee! One needed to purchase a size above to compensate the shrinking occurring during washing.
1780, La Fayette
He widely distributed these condoms (made of sheep guts), and he was the first to introduce their use in the New World.
The young man had a strong interest in medicine and health matters. Besides, he wrote a letter to George Washington about a German doctor, Franz Anton Mesmer, from Paris, in which he vaunted the merits of “magnetism”.
Back in France, he became General Lieutenant of the Northern Armies. He noticed the ravages of sexual diseases among his men and organized a condom distribution for the troops. The ensuing bill was voted in the legislative assembly in June 1792.
Later on, Danton and Robespierre created another law in order to restrict the birth rate, thus decreasing the population and causing a much needed famine relief in Europe at that time.
1650, Charles de la Condamine
After this discovery, French chemists attempted to use this new material, called latex, to make condoms. However, vulcanization as we know it today was not invented, and raw latex was highly allergenic.
So the first latex condoms were not the decade’s best-sellers… Nevertheless, Charles de la Condamine’s name remains synonymous with the condom to this day.
With latex condoms still needing improvement, people continued to rely on condoms made of animal guts, a technique dating back to the Ancient Egyptians.
Documentation also suggests that the legendary womanizer Casanova was a regular user of this type of contraceptive device. He referred to condoms as redingote anglaise (meaning “English riding coat”).
1561, Doctor Fallopio
He claimed to have invented a sheath made of linen, and he conducted clinical trials amongst 1,100 men using this condom. None of them became infected with syphilis.
1492, Christopher Colombus
He observed Haitians playing with a ball made of rubber, an unusual and unfamiliar material to him, but in fact commonly used in South America, since the time of the Incas, at least.
As seen on this engraved stone, on the left stand, there is an Inca ball player, and on the right a rubber ball bouncing on stadium tiers.
Hevea, the “parà rubber tree” from which latex is extracted, is a typical South American plant. It was not planted elsewhere in the world until centuries later.
3000 BC, The Egyptians
guts to protect themselves from venereal diseases.
Penile sheaths, garments, and decorations appeared in the art and literature of various ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, or India.