04 May 2021

An antique "French letter"

The etymology of "French letter" is unclear.  Condoms are also colloquially referred to as raincoats, rubbers, etc.  The one illustrated above is made from sheep intestine and dates to about 1800, but the Wikipedia article on the history of the condom provides documentation back to the Renaissance.

Image from a BBC article on The search to make a perfect condom.


  1. Unsure if it's related, but in Victorian England, syphilis was referred to as 'the French malady', and the English have believed for a long time that the French were libertines by comparison to themselves. Perhaps there's a link to be found there?

  2. I read somewhere that the French called this an "English hood."

  3. I'd add the term "French tickler" too, but it doesn't look like it would tickle either party.

  4. i assume that wire frame was removed before insertion?



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