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Horn shaped ear trumpet, 1701-1900

Hearing aids of varying designs have been used since the 1500s to help people who are hard of hearing. This polished piece of hollow horn was an ingenious hearing trumpet. The tip is inserted into the ear canal. The natural shape of the horn acts as a trumpet. It ‘catches’ and amplifies sound to the ear drum. The effectiveness of the horn as a hearing aid is unknown. However, it was a novel and economical response to a common problem.

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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.