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Miniature ear trumpets, London, England, 1805-1900

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A ‘bugle’ ear trumpet is named because of its similarity to the musical instrument. This hearing aid is probably a variation of one. ‘Bugle’ ear trumpets were invented by ear, nose and throat specialist Jean Pierre Bonnafont (1805–1891). Bonnafont thought ear trumpets available at the time were cumbersome and inconvenient. This pair of miniature ear trumpets was worn hidden under the hair. They were made by F. C. Rein and Son in London. The company was founded in 1800. It was the first firm known to manufacture hearing aids commercially.

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Glossary: deafness

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

Glossary: hearing aid

A small electronic apparatus that amplifies sound and is worn in or behind the ear to compensate for impaired hearing.

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.