1910: Mantelet invents the breast douche

Nothing is known about Frenchman Alexis Mantelet – other the fact he was a man seemingly obsessed with breasts and the cleanliness thereof.

In 1910 and 1927, Mantelet filed two applications for devices to wash the female bosom. The first of these he dubbed the “breast douche”. Pictured below, Mantelet’s “breast douche” was a long hose and tap fitting, connected to a cupping arrangement housing “two or preferably three rings of strong jets”. It was then placed briefly on each breast, while the user adjusted the jets to her liking. According to Mantelet, this process achieved:

“A complete, vigorous and abundant douche over the whole surface of the breast… so that the douche may very well be of short duration. This douche therefore gives very desirable results [without] shock or undue chill.”

Mantelet fails to explain the necessity or advantages of washing one’s breasts so thoroughly. However, 17 years later he had changed some of his views about “breast douching”. Mantelet’s second patent, lodged in April 1927, was a less complex handheld device for “sprinkling the breasts”, rather than bombarding them. Harsh jets of water on “delicate mammillae”, wrote Mantelet, deliver “an exaggerated massage of the muscular fibres of the mammary glands”, toughening the breast and possibly distorting its shape.

The 1927 version of Mantelet’s breast washer was easier on the breasts and would “preserve the due proportion of their shape”. Both patents were granted but it seems that Mantelet’s “breast douches” never reached the market.

Source: US Patent Office records, Nos. 973445 (1910) and 1746861 (1927). Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

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