Fan type hearing aid, 1700-1850

1700-1850 in Unknown place

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Fan type hearing aid, 18th to 19th centuries. Full view, graduated black background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Fan type hearing aid, 18th to 19th centuries

Sound was reflected by holding this fan-type hearing aid behind the ear. It is much like cupping your hand behind your ear. The fan is made of a flexible board attached to a wooden handle. A thong is tied to the board, although its purpose is uncertain. It may have been tied onto a small hook by the handle to increase the curvature of the fan. This would increase amplification. Hearing aids of varying designs have been used since the 1500s to help people who are hard of hearing. The effectiveness of the fan as a hearing aid is debatable. However, it was a novel and economical response to a common problem.


Object Number:
board, cardboard, waxed, frame, lead, handle, oak, turned, thong, string
aural aid
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
Stretton, M.J.L.
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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