A Very Rare William IV Ear Trumpet

Maker: 
Charles Reily and George Storer
Dated: 
1830
Dimensions: 
6.25" (16 cm) High, 3.4" (8.5 cm) Diam.
Weight: 
4.5 oz

Of bugle form, the wide aperture of plain tapering shape that unscrews from the four 90 degree angled and tapering stem. The slender curved end with replaced Ivorine earpiece.

Price: 
£3500

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The earliest hearing aids appear to be simple animal horns that date back to classical times or possibly earlier. These were the inspiration for the highly collected silver ear trumpets that appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries. This type were generally straight with curved ends for the opening and the earpiece. This particular trumpet by Reily and Storer clearly has roots in a musical instrument or speaking trumpet. In 1713 Christopher Stephanus Kazaver published (in Latin) "Dissertatio Inauguralis De Tuba Stentoria" where he illustrates a hearing device clearly derived from something resembling a bugle with angled stem. This is the closest we can find to the form of ear trumpet we now have for sale. Rather confusingly a very similar form of hearing aid appeared in the mid-19th century frequently referred to as being invented by a Frenchman Jean Bonnafont. This is unlikely as the Reily and Storer trumpet predates the Bonnafont design by at least 20 years. Furthermore at the date of manufacture of the English trumpet (1830) Bonnafont was fighting at the siege of Algiers and his interest in audiology was only in its infancy.

This trumpet is in remarkably good condition with just a very slight bruise in the body and a considerable rarity.