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Victorian sex toy made of Indian ivory tickles many

A 19th century sex toy made of Indian ivory is set to go under the hammer in Ireland this weekend, with the guide price for the carefully carved piece set at 500 euros to 800 euros.

world Updated: Apr 22, 2017 19:23 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Victorian sex toy,Indian ivory,19th century sex toy
(Representative image)

The Victorian era is known for its prudery about sex but things were a bit different for the elite, or so it seems – at least if one goes by a 19th century sex toy carefully carved from the tusk of an elephant shot in India that is going under the hammer in Ireland.

Of the hundreds of items being auctioned over the weekend in Oldcastle, County Meath, the phallus-shaped piece of erotica has tickled the fancy of many, and the auctioneers hope bids will reach aclimax way beyond the guide price set at 500 euros to 800 euros.

The item has been put up for auction by a well-known Anglo-Irish family, auctioneer Damien Matthews told The Irish Times, a leading daily from Dublin. Its provenance is said to date to the mid-19th century.

Matthews said: “It is a beautiful piece…A family member found it in a drawer, and he put it in the auction for fun really. We believe the ivory dates back to the 1840s. This fellow, the original owner, was in Indiain the 1840s, where he shot himself an elephant, and brought the tusk home.”

The piece was later carved in Chinabetween 1899 and 1901, where the man went to fight in the Boxer Uprising, a violent anti-foreign and anti-Christian uprising. The level of detail in the lifelike carving is “incredible”, he added.

The item is identified as Lot 475 in the auctioneer’s catalogue, and described as an “antique carved ivory ladies companion in scarlet lined leather upholstered carry box with inset bevelled glass panel”.

Matthews said: “The Chinese were famous for carving ivory, and the quality of carving is so good, I think that is where he would have had to have had it done. He would not have known that he was coming home, and would have wanted his wife to have this.

“This was a very enlightened family, and this would have been a very loving gift from a husband to wife. You can see that because the level of detail is incredible, down to the folds of the skin. There’s a heart carved at the base of it, where her finger would have been, and a receptacle in which she could keep a lock of his hair.”

The man returned to Ireland, where the box was subsequently custom-made.

“This piece is a great rarity…You’ve got to remember in Victorian times, the amount of people that could afford to indulge or create something like this was tiny. Ninety-nine per cent of the country were trying to get by, so there were perhaps 400 or 500 families in the country with those kind of means. It’s not just a piece of erotica – it’s a work of art, and a fascinating piece of social history,” Matthews told the daily.

First Published: Apr 22, 2017 19:23 IST