Friday, September 29, 2017

Better Than the Sound of Silence

Two people dear to me are beginning to lose their hearing, and both are too proud to wear hearing aids. I find myself raising my voice a lot and attempting to enunciate more clearly than usual. Had they been born in the upper class in the early nineteenth century, however, they might have used an ear trumpet.

You may have seen the horn-shaped things in old movies or read about them in books. Basically, the cone collected sounds and funneled them to the ear. Made from silver, horn, or wood, some were custom designed for a particular client. In 1800, Frederick Rein opened the first commercial shop in London.

Most had to be hand-held or placed on a stand on the table, and thus were quite visible. Some were collapsible for easy transport, but still evident in use. Like my two darlings, not everyone wanted to advertise their loss of hearing. So, Rein also developed less noticeable types, such as twin flower-shaped horns worn over the top of the head like today’s headphones. He also developed an acoustic urn that sat in the center of a table, collected sounds from around the room, and funneled them down a long tube to the listener. For the King of Portugal, he designed a special chair, where open-mouthed lion heads on the arm rests channeled sounds to the top of the chair, near the king’s ears. Talk about stealth hearing devices!

Other famous people besides the king said to have used ear trumpets during the early nineteenth century include the painter Joshua Reynolds and Beethoven.

Now, allow me to trumpet a little. I’m delighted to report that I have an audio book for the first time! “An Engagement of Convenience” has been recorded as part of the Summer House Party audiobook by Brilliance Audio. I can’t describe my delight when I heard my words being read aloud for the first time by someone other than me! 

And I hope Daisy and Lynn Lovegreen will be equally delighted. Lynn won the $25 Amazon gift certificate from last week, and Daisy won a copy of one of my books (e-book for Edwards and Williams’ titles, print copy from my stash for my Love Inspired titles). Contact me at reginascott at owt dot com with your physical address, and I’ll send those right out. Thanks for being part of Nineteen Teen as we head into our next 10 years!

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