The Sex Detector

The Sex Detector made its debut around 1920. It was a gadget, sold by "Sex-Detector Laboratories," that promised to be able to detect the gender of an egg — or any piece of biological matter whose sex one might want to find out (oysters, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, worms). It supposedly even worked on blood. So police could use it to discover the sex of a criminal.

It was basically an empty rifle shell suspended on a piece of string. When held over an egg (or whatever) it would reveal through the direction of its motion the sex of the chick inside.

It was probably more accurately described as an idiot detector... the idiot being the one holding the string.

For a while it was heavily advertised in poultry journals, but when inspectors at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture investigated the efficacy of the device, they found it to be useless. It worked no better than a piece of cardboard attached to a thread. Advertisements for the product were banned.

The Leghorn World - Feb 1921

Wilmington Evening Journal - May 4, 1928

Williams News - July 8, 1921

San Francisco Chronicle - Oct 17, 1920

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Feb 5, 1922

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 25, 2017
     Category: Inventions | 1920s

Nothing new under the sun - look up the ADE651 "bomb detector" or claims about the E-Meter up until recently. I remember my cousin trying to convince me that a cheap metal finger ring and a piece of thread could be used to detect a lie when we were kids.
Posted by KDP in Madill, OK on 04/25/17 at 01:19 PM
Years ago there was a like-minded scam called a "guaranteed fly killer." It consisted of two wooden blocks, and the instructions said to place a fly on Block A and crush with Block B. I guess that would be guaranteed to kill a fly...
Posted by Brian in NJ on 04/26/17 at 03:48 PM
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