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.”

Nottingham Evening Post, 19th August 1912

Nottingham Evening Post, 19th August 1912

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.”

Sunderland Daily Echo, 16th October 1903

Sunderland Daily Echo, 16th October 1903

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.

Edinburgh Evening News, 17th September 1903

Edinburgh Evening News, 17th September 1903

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.”

Yorkshire Post, 23rd November 1905

Yorkshire Post, 23rd November 1905

“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?

Falkirk Herald, 17th May 1922

Falkirk Herald, 17th May 1922

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.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 1st June 1899

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 1st June 1899

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