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'London Dome' ear trumpet, London, England, 1869-1900

This hearing aid is probably a variation of a ‘London Dome’ ear trumpet. It is so-called because of its similarity to the dome on St. Paul’s Cathedral. The ivory ear tip sat inside the ear canal. The ear trumpet amplified sounds down the tube. The ear trumpet is a type of parabolic reflector. This reflective device projects energy onto a focal point, in this case the ear drum, through refraction and reflection. This enables the ear trumpet to be an effective hearing aid while remaining relatively small.

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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.