Scans: '60s Oster Home and Kitchen Gadgets Brochure

Above is a scan of one page from a brochure for the John Oster Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, vintage unknown. (I'd guess early sixties.) It's my favorite page of whole catalog, because it advertises personal "massage instruments" clearly intended for use in a woman's nethers. And because I'm a child who titters at every mention of masturbation. The whole catalog is a hoot—and it's reproduced after the jump—if only to see how much some home and kitchen gadgets have changed (the peaked coffeemaker, the electric shaver) and how much others have stayed the same. (The electric toothbrush is only slightly larger than modern models.) But of course my favorite is one of the massagers: the "Scientific Jr.," up there in the top-left corner, looking for all the world like a tiny rocket engine ready to take one lucky lady to the stars. Also noteworthy are the brands under copyright by Oster. (I wonder if they still are?) "Oster, Osterizer, Raycine, Snoflake, Professional, Mini-Blend, T.M. Scientific, Scientific, Jr., Massagett, Duo-Massage, Cyclomatic, Hi-Fi Hair Dryer, Infra-Red, Touch-A-Matic, Pulse-Matic, Cutlery Center, Double-Action." Infra-Red? Professional? I have a hard time believing Oster had a copyright on those. I'll be uploading higher-rez scans to a new Flickr group I hope to announce here soon, but for now, enjoy these web-sized bites after the jump.
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27 Responses to Scans: '60s Oster Home and Kitchen Gadgets Brochure

  1. Joel Johnson says:

    Acutally, thinking about this, maybe they were copyrighting the products, not the brands. And no, they weren’t trademarks!

    Also, I posted this in retro-futurism, but I am aware this is not really retro-futurism in the strictest sense.

  2. Martin Lemm says:

    Oster still makes the Scientific Jr.: it’s now called the Stim-U-Lax!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The massage items were not intended for “a lady’s nether regions”, but were often used for scalp massages -in the vain idea that it would induce hair growth in men. They were also used for foot massages -see the reference to callus remover… Remember in those days, women wore incredibly pointed stiletto heeled shoes (as some women today) and they probably needed some relief. None of these items were intended for sexual gratification.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      Well, I’m not a woman, so I can only go by what I’m told, but I was under the impression that most of the massagers sold in these sorts of catalogs over the last few decades were just vibrators for discrete housewives. I mean, sure, I bet they got some use elsewhere, but the Scientific, Jr. straps right onto the middle fingers, which, from what I learned by sneaking glances over the shoulders of female classmates reading “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (and I Am Totally Playing with Myself)”, are often used by women to masturbate.

      I will concede I may be wrong! But might you also concede that you may be wrong about none of the items being intended for sexual use?

  4. E.D. Steele says:

    Joel, For some reason I cannot get into your message. I have a problem
    with my Oster Vibrator (professional version). The first one I had rattled
    like a jack hammer, so I spent $70 to get a new one. Shortly after I
    purchased it, I went off to Afghanistan (I am 76 years old) to work with the
    Corps of Engineers as an engineer and took it with me. I have broken my
    back twice and it helps me when the pain is bad. Within a few weeks it too
    started rattling like hell although it works well. I spent a year in
    Afghanistan and have recently returned. What can I do to get this to humm
    like it did at first and not make so darn much noise – big noise. ??????
    Thank you for whatever you can do to assist me. E.D. Steele 17 Running Fox
    Rd, Columbia, SC 29223 803 788 6775 HELP
    —– Original Message —–

  5. Anonymous says:

    My mother had one of those massagers. I remember clearly the day I realized what it actually was. **shiver**

  6. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    My grandmother would give my sister and I great backrubs with one of these back-of-the-hand vibrators. I don’t know what else she used it for but she’s 106 and still alive, so it’s gotta be good for you.

  7. Joel Johnson says:

    I believe you, Zelph, but how do you know the date so specifically?

  8. Anonymous says:

    As a child of the sixties, I can tell you the back end of an electric razor worked just fine, until the WaterPik shower head massager came out and supplanted it. :)

  9. Anonymous says:

    My grandmother also used to massage all the kids with the stim-u-lax. I found one at an antique store and bought it.

    My girlfriend is afraid of it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Re: date of brochure based on aesthetics, I’m no historian of advertising & design, but my experience is that the early-1960s “jet age” aesthetic continued well into the sixties, and in less progressive sectors, into the seventies as well. Especially in advertising for consumer products bought by suburbanites–it seems like the Peter Max/hippy aesthetic was never embraced, and companies went straight from this look to that horrible leisure-suit aesthetic starting around 1973.

    And the dress worn by the model is actually kind of psychedelic–post “Swinging-London”, if you will. My $3 bet would be on the late 1960s as well.

    Neil H.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My mother had the Massagett and kept it in the linen closet. I don’t think she had it for naughty reasons. I, on the other hand, borrowed it at a relatively young age to see what would happen. It was pretty crazy, man!

    It was my first, but not my last. Oster product, that is. :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    I once had the one in the upper left hand corner that I ran across somewhere – it had an electricity smell – like an old radio or blender when you ran it, with distressing shocks of electricity and blue sparks randomly visible through the vent holes. The metal springs to put your hand through to hold it against the increasingly hotter foam that pressed against the top of one’s hand – continually pinched the skin until the whole questionable point and process made one switch it off and put it back in the box never to use again. Curiousity would make you plug it in and turn it on if you ran across it in the attic again, but eventually it would end up in the Goodwill bag – where someone else would pick it up and buy it – starting the process all over again…

  13. Stefan Jones says:

    I can’t believe that none of the copy uses the infamous term “hard to reach places.”

    * * *

    Sometime in the mid 90s I got my hair cut at a barber shop on the outer fringes of a shopping mall. (I got the impression that it was mostly patronized by mall personnel. It was “in” the mall but only reachable by the outside.)

    The barber was a Russian guy. Did a competent, lightning fast haircut, and then broke out a noisy electric massager (most similar to the “rocket engine”) and gave me a really good neck-and-shoulder shake up. Totally unsolicited, just part of the service. Felt great. Next time I’m in Hicksville, Long Island I should see if the place is still open.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Heh, I remember that Canadian catalog company Consumers Distributing had one plain white model for sale forever – and it sure looked like a vibe.

    My favorite line of the short ad, which still makes me giggle today: “Smooth, unbreakable plastic.” Because BREAKABILITY is what women worry about in a dildo!

  15. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    I’m frightened by how many of those appliances I remember. My father always cut my brothers’ hair with one of those electric clipper sets. I forget whether it was ’67 or ’68 or ’69 that everyone gave everyone else those electric can openers and knife sharpeners for Christmas. What the can openers did best was condition cats to come running when they heard its distinctive whine.

    My grandparents owned various vibrating massagers, from the 50s onward. I think they used theirs for massage, possibly including foot massage. Foot care was a big issue back then, because everyone’s shoes hurt. It wasn’t just women in their high heels. Men’s shoes didn’t have nearly as much engineering and padding and arch support as they do now. People simply expected that by the end of the workday, their feet would be sore.

    The Boomers can be irritating, but they did refuse en masse to accept that shoes had to hurt. We all reap the benefits.

    But back to the original question: were people also using their vibrators to get off? Of course they were. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that it’s now acceptable to say that that’s what vibrators are for.

    If you want proof, somewhere around here I have someone’s ancient sheet of tips and hints for throwing a successful orgy, or whatever they were calling such entertainments that year. Near the top of the list it says, “Make sure you have enough extension cords.”

    #12, the point of making dildos out of “smooth, unbreakable plastic” is that it’s hygienic. You can wash them clean afterward. If there were any cracks in the plastic, they’d just get nasty.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Brochure says “Litho 6/68 in U.S.A.” at bottom of reply card.

  17. Anonymous says:

    i actually own the oster electric dog clipper set that my mother bought in the 1960’s. looks just like that one and it still works just fine.

  18. Zelph says:

    This brochure is from June 1968. Our family had a couple of these (non-vibrating) gadgets.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Ahhh, the Oster Scientific — my first boyfriend…

  20. Nezrite says:

    My mother had the hair dryer/radio combo. I do not miss it.

  21. Anonymous says:

    For the poster who was sure these things were never intended to be used as vibrators, a link to the Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum. A thoroughly researched history, photos, of course, plus many of the items are from the owner’s personal collections.–Antique-Vibrator-Museum–id-367

    Buzz, buzz.

  22. MaximusNYC says:

    I like how the can openers will open “even odd-shaped or dented cans!”

    Finally, I can get into that dented can of beef stew I’ve had at the back of the cabinet for years. Mmm… botulism…

  23. Anonymous says:

    Best Blenders Ever!!

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