Condoms in the 18th century

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 10 16:00:37 UTC 2013

On Apr 10, 2013, at 10:36 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Where would one find a collection of terms used for "condom" in the
> 18th century -- both standard and slang?
> Joel
I don't know about collections, but Farmer & Henley (1890-1904) list such variants as "French letter", "Spanish letter", "Italian letter", and even "American letter", as well as "capote anglaise" (English overcoat), 'usually described in print as "specialities" or "circular protectors"', but with no cites. The entry for "cundum" curiously lists this as "an obsolete appliance worn in the act of coition…the modern equivalent is known as a French letter", with one cite from Rochester et al.'s "Panegyric upon Cundum", 1767.

LH, wondering whether the cundum would count as a major or minor appliance

P.S. Glancing down the page from "French letter", I see that "French vice" is delicately glossed as 'a euphemism for all sexual malpractices'.  Wonder what the premiums for malpractice insurance were like back then.

The American Dialect Society -

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