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Ear trumpet, possibly used during a period of mourning, Europe, 1850-1910

This ear trumpet has an ornate black lace collar and bow detail, suggesting it was used during the mourning period immediately after a death. Ear trumpets amplified sound to help partially deaf people hear more clearly. Somber clothing had to be worn and complicated mourning etiquette adhered to during the period of mourning. Queen Victoria took this to extremes. She wore mourning clothing for 40 years after her beloved husband Prince Albert passed away in 1861. Her mourning period lasted until her death in 1901. This ear trumpet dates from the same era. It was perhaps inspired by Victoria’s dedication to a dignified mourning period for a loved one.

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Glossary: deafness

A condition where the hearing in both ears in not functional to ordinary levels.

Glossary: ear trumpet

A funnel-shaped instrument for people with hearing difficulties. The trumpet is designed to gather sound waves and direct them into the ear canal. The short end of the funnel was held to the ear by the user, and the large end directed toward the sound.

Glossary: mourning

Trial term S&H

Glossary: mourning clothes

Articles of clothing worn as an expression of grief and remembrance by those mourning the death of a loved one. Although different clothes are worn in different cultures, the most common custom is the wearing of very dark and sombre clothing.