A silver plated ear trumpet in a beehive configuration by Franck Valery Freres.
This ear trumpet has seen some life but remains a charismatic and charming example of the the beehive trumpet made by one of the more prestigious Parisian makers of hearing aids who started business in 1883. The embossed label reads FRANCK-VALERY FR 5, BD DES CAPUCINES PARIS.
The beehive or spiral configuration may have been adopted to mirror the organic shape of the inner ear in the hope that this would aid its acoustic function. The appearance may also allude to the “Ear of Dionysius”, a 20m-high prison with a slender pointed arch in the form of a spiral which was hewn out of the rock face. Legend has it that the Cathedral-like acoustics allowed him to hear the prisoner’s whispers from outside.