Flexible tube hearing aids were also known as ‘conversation tubes’. They amplified sound to help partially deaf people hear more clearly. They are a very basic hearing aid. The user could either listen to general conversation or the speaker talked directly into the trumpet end. Conversation tubes were not just for the hard of hearing. Puritan couples who were courting used them during the 1600s to have private conversations. Social customs of the day dictated they sit opposite each other across a table. The conversation tube allowed them a little intimacy and interaction.
Credit: Science Museum, London.