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A selection of vintage condoms (images from ep.tc/condom-envelopes/)

You’ve seen it before with heroin bags, but now check out a typology of a different, (potentially) less dangerous sort. Here’s a collection of vintage condoms, from wrappers and “envelopes” to actual tins, which look really cool. The branding is the funniest part– would you buy a condom called “Sedatex”? How about the subtle “Pousse L’Amour”?

“Fulton” brand condoms are for the patriotic, with their wavy blue and red lines on white paper. “Devilskin” is guaranteed for three whole years! “Perma-Tex” are sold “for the prevention of disease only,” following a hygienic current in the condoms’ sloganeering. “Bufalo” shows a slightly phallic rampaging buffalo, symbolism for what will happen on its use? I happen to really like the oriental architecture silhouettes of “Odalisca”. The cheery simplicity of “The Best” is definitely the best, even though it could pass for a political pin.

A selection of vintage condoms (images from ep.tc/condom-envelopes/)

These condom wrappers, made of printed paper, are so graphically interesting and fun that it really makes me wonder what we’re doing with our contemporary condom design. Trojan is ridiculously boring. Those NYC-brand condoms were kind of a flop (pun, lol). All we’re left with is one-off vanity or comic condoms like oh… a Barack Obama rubber. Hot. With the added advantage of nostalgia, these vintage condoms manage to be both classy and funny. May I offer you another “mimosa”?

You could spice up your prophylactic life, though, by purchasing a vintage condom tin and storing your contemporary condoms in it. Check out eBay for a surprisingly large amount of condom paraphernalia. This Trojans tin is nice, but I definitely prefer the Golden Pheasant. There’s even a book of vintage condom design, the appropriately titled Remember Your Rubbers!

Also, couldn’t contemporary artists take on the condom as a medium? I really think this a new genre waiting to happen, just need to get Damien Hirst on it… he can prevent us from making our own mini Jackson Pollocks.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

4 replies on “Branding Vintage Condoms: Remember Your Rubbers!”

  1. Interesting that the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene actually did host a contest to design condom wrappers, open to all New Yorkers, back in 2009. There’s an old article in the New York Times – http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/design-a-condom-wrapper-city-asks/

    Similar contests have popped up across the board over the last few years. There are even websites where you can customize your own! And just like Jones Soda, there are brands like One Condoms that let users submit and choose the best labels, all around the brand’s logo “One.” You’re so right that it is a fantastic space for art!

    But like they say: they all look the same in the dark…

  2. Museum of Sex has a little section of their permanent collection on view dedicated to vintage condom containers, and I imagine their past exhibition RUBBERS also featured various designs.

  3. The Brazilian artist/activist Adrienne Bertini makes incredible gowns from condoms that have failed quality control tests. Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY is featuring one based on a Coco Chanel nightgown in its “Extreme Materials” exhibition this fall.

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