Condom packaging, "Phantasma"

1930-1940 in Europe

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Condom packaging, single packet, "Phantasma", 1930-1940

Condoms were first used in Europe during the 1500s. They were worn to protect against a sexually transmitted infection called syphilis rather than being used as a contraceptive. The first condoms were made from linen and then animal gut. Sheep gut was especially popular. They were often used more than once. This is unlike to-day’s disposable examples.

This packaging is from a condom made in the 1930s. It bears the product’s name, ‘Phantasma’. Phantasma is another word for a shadowy phantom or ghost. The manufacturer seems to be emphasising its lightness and transparency. Condoms in the 21st century are still effective contraceptives. They also protect against sexually transmitted infections, including AIDS. In the last 150 years, animal intestines gradually gave way to vulcanised rubber and then the multi-coloured, multi-flavoured latex varieties available today.

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Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Contraception
Object Number:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment

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