Condoms (4), 'Ansell', in packaging, latex / paper / plastic, made by Ansell International Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1997
Condoms have been used to guard against sexually transmitted diseases since at least the 1700's when syphilis and gonorrhea were prevalent, so they have always been associated with disease and illicit sex. As a contraceptive they were never quite 'respectable' and after the advent of the Pill they were considered decidedly old-fashioned.
Ironically, it was a disease that brought about a recent meteoric rise in their popularity. Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s, frank safer-sex campaigns have made condoms familiar and acceptable.
Early condoms were made from such materials as sheep intestines. In the mid 1800s vulcanisation, a treatment that gives rubber greater strength and elasticity, made it possible to make condoms that were thin, strong and relatively cheap. The next innovation was latex. Condoms made from liquid latex were first produced in the 1930s, and this is the material that most condoms are still made of today.
These Ansell condoms represent the latest in condom technology in 1997.
Written by Erika Dicker
Assistant Curator, 2007.
The condom packets were made by Ansell International in Melbourne in 1997.