More information on #402 Blodgett's Multi-Audiphone Auricle

A patented 19th century faux tortoise shell celluloid auricle with an attractive organic design in its original tin box with provenance. This is the same piece currently shown at Phisick

On the inside of the lid is a picture of a Victorian woman sporting the aid and below this “To be adjusted behind the ear as shown above. Dr F M Blodgett’s Multi-Audiphone for deafness No 1286 Broadway New York.”  On the base a label completed by hand reads Name: H. H. Moore. Residence: Frewsburg N.Y. Price: 5.00 $ Date: Dec 3rd 1891. The auricle is marked “Multi-Audiphone Dr F M Blodgett New York Patented April 8 1890 2R”, the latter denoting the size and side. The patent can be seen in the last picture.

H H Moore was a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Frewsberg district of New York who retired in 1900. See this link. There are a number of other references available through Google searches

Dr Frank H Blodgett also developed an earlier device the Micro-Audiphone patented in 1886 which was not successful and production ceased in 1894. I have found little else on researching him. The Multi-Audiphone would have been made in small numbers and probably had a similar degree of commercial success to the Micro-Audiphone.

For the following reasons it is now a museum quality antique which would be a fine centrepiece to any collection of non electronic hearing aids:

  • Striking Jules Verne like appearance which typifies the Art Nouveau style of the time. This also links to a feature of early hearing devices which were often designed to mimick natural organic shapes (the spiral conch like elements having similarities to the anatomy of the inner ear) in the hope that this would also emulate nature's effectiveness.
  • Complete with original artwork and in very good condition. There are age related changes throughout as shown in the photographs. There is a stable mid shaft fracture line which is hard to see and mentioned only for completeness. Celluloid of this age will nearly always have degenerative cracks and changes.
  • Comes in its original ornately decorated tin box which would be collectable in its own right. Cased examples of ear trumpets / auricles are seldom seen.
  • Early. This is a documented 19th century ear trumpet, as distinct from the plethora of more common 20th century examples.
  • Remarkable provenance which includes, inventor and maker, date of sale, name and region of purchaser, as well as documentation of the patent and diagramatic confirmation of its completeness.
  • Extremely rare (limited production in small numbers, didn't catch on). I am not aware of another example of the Multi-Audiphone ear trumpet outside of my collection, owned either privately or by any museum.

Dr Frank H Blodgett also developed an earlier device the Micro-Audiphone patented in 1886 which was not successful and production ceased in 1894.
data kindly provided by

Ear Trumpets, the Packington Collection
SY10, Shropshire, UK