Acoustic Oils
Patent Medicines to Cure Deafness



In the 19th century one malady that not effectively treated by medical science (even less than it is now)  was deafness. The fact there were no real treatments made it a tempting target for the quack medicine dealers. Deafness is a bit different than diseases like liver and kidney ailments in that their treatment results could be rather subjective while it was pretty apparent if the patient's deafness was cured. There were probably enough first time customers that would dish out the $1.00-$2.00 for a bottle to make the products profitable.

The medicines were apparently dispensed as ear drops and were found in small bottles.

Probably the best known deafness treatment bottle was DR COOPERS ETHEREAL OIL FOR DEAFNESS. This medicine was sold in the mid to late 1840s.

A flared lip version sold at a Glass Works auction


A rolled lip version of the bottle.

An 1845 ad for Coopers Oil states it was made from Walnut tree bark.

Another less know Deafness Cure which originated a few years before Cooper's product was SCARPA'S OIL FOR DEAFNESS. This medicine was produced by B. Bell in Philadelphia beginning around 1843. The name likely came from Antonius Scarpa who discovered the nerves in the ear which functioned in hearing (Scarpa's Ganglion) around 1779. The medicine was advertised for sale until at least the late 1850s. The bottles came in two sizes $2.00 and $1.00, the smaller shown below.


1845 ad

The famous Comstock brothers who had an amazing array of patent medicines also of course had their own deafness cures. They had both Dr Mc Nair's Acoustic Oil fro Deafness and Dr Larzetti's Acoustic Oil For Deafness. Interestingly they were the same product but with names to appeal to different immigrant classes in the population.