Say What?

With the opening of the Gallery of Innovation fast approaching, many of Detroit’s lesser known innovators will be spotlighted.  However, one name that might not make the cut is George P. Way, of the Artificial Ear Drum Company.  Recently we came across a packet mailed in 1922 from Way’s company to a prospective client in California, in which Way attempts to sell both a medicated ear drum as well as a device called the “Blowena,” both purported to cure deafness.  The Blowena consisted of a rubber hose through which a patient would blow air from their mouth, past a medicated sponge, into their ear in order to relieve “catarrh, hay fever, cold in the head and influenza, or any irritation of the nose and throat, but particularly for catarrhal deafness.”  Mr. Way’s inventions are part of a rich history of devices of dubious effectiveness sold as remedies for the deaf and hearing impaired from the 19th and early 20th century.

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