THE MUSEUM OF MENSTRUATION AND WOMEN'S HEALTH
Ads for washable menstrual pads
(Teufel brand of Damenbinden, German
for menstrual pads), about 1900? from
Women have probably used washable
pads for thousands of years,
washing them rather than throwing them
away, perhaps because of cost and
perhaps because of taboos.
My hunch is that commercial washable
pads first appeared in the 19th
century; women made their own before
then and of course still do today (see
late 19th or early 20th century Japanese and
instructions for making them).
Below we see commercial German pads
from about 1900 (see roughly
washable pads, and Japanese pads
from slightly later; and see how a modern pad can trick an Indian
woman's family and neighbors into
giving her more freedom!).
to a holder and
belt, as they also did in the
1930s, even after the German
disposable pad Camelia (introduced in
the 1920s and, sadly, absorbed by
Kotex recently; see an old
ad) vied for women's Reichsmarks.
government classifies patents for
menstrual pads with bandages,
showing a cross-cultural similarity.
And the o.b. in o.b. tampon - a
German brand before Johnson &
Johnson bought it in the 1970s -
stands for ohne Binde, without
meaning a tampon. (See an ad from the 1950s and
a later German one, from
By the way, Teufel
in German, something oddly appropriate
here, although it's undoubtedly the
family name of the manufacturer. In my
13 years in Germany I didn't come
across someone with that name,
however, a tribute to my clean
The ad is from Junker, Almut and
Stille, Eva.: Zur
der Unterwäsche [Towards a History of
Underwear]. 1700-1960. Eine
Ausstellung des Historischen Museums
Frankfurt 28. April bis 28. August
1988. ; FfM, Germany
(Historisches Museum) 1988, the catalog
of an exhibit of the history of
underwear at the museum of the city of
Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Unfortunately the catalog does not
tell where the ad appeared; it strikes
me as being from the manufacturer's
catalog - see the last sentence
of the page for Teufel's Diana belts,
which suggests that.
suggest to the lady or gent at YOUR
hometown museum that it display
women's underwear and menstrual
gear!! Tell me what she says, if
it's printable without a jail term!
Hey, a Norwegian
did it, as the did one in Frankfurt!
That'll convince 'em! Those sinful
translations of title and
of two items:
simple menstrual pads of
down and terry cloth
No. 15. Terry-cloth
menstrual pad, simple
is literally ladies'
bandage; bandage is a word
you can see in a menstrual
suspenders ad from
America). Price per
10, 3 marks
No. 19. Down menstrual pad,
better quality. Price per
10, 4 marks
© 2001 Harry Finley.
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