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Vibrator Sale To-Day: 1921

Vibrator Sale To-Day: 1921

1921 or 1922. "People's Drug Store, 7th and K." On the table: a nice assortment of Star vibrators. This is a new version of a photo originally posted Aug. 15, 2007. In what counts as an exciting curatorial development here at Shorpy, the glass negative is now available for this image (a.k.a. "the vibrator photo"), as opposed to the previous version made from the scan of a print. The new version is a lot sharper, and shows more of the store. The caption info also gives the address, which we didn't have last year. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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No Plastic !

If you notice, everything is either in a box, glass or some type of metal because plastic really wasn't invented yet.

[Actually, it had been. -tterrace]

Waterman & Parker (& Peoples)

Yes, Lewis Waterman is popularly supposed to have invented the fountain pen, although it might be more accurate to say that he invented the fountain pen advertising campaign, since although he was the first big international success, there had been other pens before his. Parker was one of his archrivals; ironically, both companies are now essentially foreign operations (Parker in the UK, Waterman in France) under the control of the same parent (Newell Rubbermaid).

I can make out some steel dip points, which is what you would have used had you been unable to afford the relatively expensive new fountain pen.

Finally, as a native of the DC area, I can recall "going to Peoples" to pick up drugs & sundries. A couple decades back they were purchased by CVS, which promptly got rid of the name (and the cool neon signage on many of the stores). I still can't understand throwing away a name with nearly a century of goodwill behind it.

X-acto knives or ...

They look like cuticle care instruments to me, but they are pretty fuzzy. I too noticed the French Teething Rings and anachronistically grew suspicious that they were really something else.


What is that mop-like thing in the upper right? Is it some kind of light bulb cover?

[It's a lampshade. - Dave]

Pyralin Ivory

I found this page about pyralin ivory hair receivers and pictures of well groomed ladies of the Victorian age.


I was reading just last night in a 1957 edition of Popular Sceince, that Lewis Waterman was credited with inventing the first workable fountain pen in the late 1800's.


Several years ago my widowed grandmother showed me one of these "vibrators" and told me that my grandpa had gotten it because he had heard they could restore one's hair. She said that he was very disappointed when it didn't do the trick. My grandpa was bald by the age of 23 or so and my grandmother refused to marry him unless he wore a toupee. This he did -- but only on his wedding day and the thing never rested on his head again.

Between Constipation and Nutra Vin

It looks like a beginner set of X-acto knives. Yes? No?

Henry Fonda?

Rob the joint? NEVER!!

Just Right

Having the vibrators right on top of the radiator means they're toasty warm when you get them home.

Just the thing for "facial wrinkles," no doubt!

Use As Directed

As long as both ends of these devices are plugged in where they are supposed to be, everyone's happy.


Advertisements like the ones posted by Diane and Dave make me extremely glad that I was born in the latter part of the 20th century. Especially interesting in Diane's photo is the Melorose Beauty Cream, which "does not grow hair or turn rancid, and has a very dainty odor." This would mean that other, lesser quality beauty creams of the day did have that unfortunate side effect, I reckon. I'm also not sure if the words "dainty" and "odor" were the best descriptors, either.


Bet there was a real buzz in the neighborhood over this sale.

Tiny Boxes

I'd hate to have to do inventory on this place!

Would anyone care to guess what's in the numbered boxes up near the ceiling? And what's behind the back wall? It's obvious that the space goes much farther than that wall.

One Word: Plastics

Pyralin was Du Pont's trademark for a nitrocellulose pyroxylin plastic that was an early substitute for ivory in the manufacture of toilet articles like combs. It was also used to make automobile side curtains.

Remedies for Men. And Women!

More remedies from the pages of the Washington Post, 1912.

People's Drugstore - 1912

Just did a search for "Nutra Vin" and found this January 1912 newspaper ad for this very People's Drugstore at 7th and K. (Click to enlarge.)

Waterman Fountain Pens

Still in business, at least a few years ago. My son bought me a nice Waterman fountain pen for Christmas not too long ago.

Listen ya mugs...

Does anyone know where in DC this Peoples Drug was located? Could it been the one at DuPont Circle, now a CVS?

[This was at Seventh and K. In researching your question, I found a different and better version of photo, which I just posted. Thanks! - Dave]


If the vibrators are for reducing wrinkles, then what are the "French Tickling Rings" for? (Look just under the word "Fountain", between the nail clippers and the um, chains.)

[They're for babies to chomp on. Teething, not "tickling." And necklaces ("Job's Tears"), not chains. - Dave]

In those boxes

>Not sure what is in those boxes but they must be impervious >to heat as they are on a table over the radiator.

Looks like electric heat clamps for curlers.

[They're Star electric massage vibrators. Supposedly a beauty aid. See below. - Dave]

Kewpie Doll

The large Kewpie Doll in the back next to the sale sign might be a good clue.

You can tell this is a really old photo

by the Beta tapes stacked below the "cough and cold" sign on the right. Well, they look like Beta tapes.

Love the display!

Wish I had that display knack every month when I try to come up with cheap, creative bulletin boards at school...

The guy

The guy with his hands in his pockets looks like he is "gonna rob da joint"

Not sure what is in those

Not sure what is in those boxes but they must be impervious to heat as they are on a table over the radiator.


Liver is ok, However.....the item "Hypo Cod"...hmmm....many images, none all that pleasant.


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