1828_00_ma_staeuber
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The Powder Blower

A desperate but imaginative attempt of contraception

The so called “apparatus for women’s protection”, known in English speaking countries as “Powder Blowers”. was a widely used contraception device. It consisted of 2 parts: a rubber bulb containing the 'purifying powder’ attached to a hollow cylinder with a marking. The cylinder had to be inserted into the vagina up to the mark, then one had to pump the bulb once or twice “in order to catapult the necessary amount of powder against the opening of the uterus. After this one could remove the device and set it aside.” The powder used consisted of “50 parts boric acid, 2.5 parts citric acid, 2.5 parts tannic acid, 10 parts gum arabic, 35 parts powder. Using this powder does not impair the pleasure nor does it contain any detrimental ingredients.”

“Having been prepared in this way the vagina is protected for 30 minutes against impregnation. In case performance of the marital duty is delayed, this procedure should be repeated to ensure absolute safety.” (Quotation from ‘The new naturopathic treatment – a textbook and reference book of natural treatment and healthcare’ published by F.E. Bilz in the 73rd (!) edition dated approximately 1900).

Even for us it’s not that easy to stay serious when reading such explanations. But it is quite important to show how people were guided by imagination and desperation to try virtually every possible way in order to limit the number of their children.