Spanking Machine, 1912
In the era of corporal punishment and children’s sore bottoms, the search was on for the invention of an effective spanking machine.
American Professor of theoretical mechanics, Duff Andrew, invented one in 1912. The aim was not only to “save time and labour”, but was also an attempt to ensure the punishment fitted the crime. The pain levels could therefore be adjusted in order “to apportion scientifically the proportion of chastisement to the severity of the offence.” It was made of bamboo and aluminium, delivered 35 spanks per minute, and I imagine it looked like something seen in the pages of The Beano.
His wife and kids weren’t so keen on his invention, though. After he tried it out on one of his children, his wife objected and got put in the spanking machine as well for her trouble. Brilliantly, she took him to court for this, where he pleaded guilty. He sounded like a nightmare to live with – his wife complained that “He is always making something new, and will not let me and the children alone.”
But this wasn’t the first spanking machine invention. There were extra-helpings of sadism in this invention from 1903. Not only is it intended that an older boy could be used to inflict the punishment on a younger boy (a REEEEALLY bad idea), but there is phonographic recording equipment attached to it “to take down the solo executed by the small boy during the entertainment.”
Another 1903 version. The “humiliation” of being placed in the machine was said to be a more effective deterrent to the kids than actually being spanked – a modern version of the village stocks, I suppose.
A 1905 electronic version here. Nothing could go wrong with this – “…the flow of electricity starts a series of paddles in operation which play upon the anatomy of the victim.”
“One of the dreams of harassed parents has come true” in 1922. Interestingly, it states that as the spanking can now be administered by the turning of a wheel rather than by hand, that the old line traditionally uttered by parents “This hurts me more than it hurts you”, can’t be used anymore. That line wasn’t based on actual hand-hurt, though, was it?
It was also thought to be a useful punishment for prisoners, as seen in the following 1899 article, the earliest I found. And not only prisoners – a lodge (Masonic?) used one as an initiation ritual for a new recruit, making it extra terrifying by adding blank cartridges to the paddles so it exploded as it spanked. His subsequent death is evidently not the main story here – it’s reported almost as an aside at the end of the piece.