JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
This device looks a little suspect, but it isn't. Well, on first sight of the patent drawing this device seemed dubious and quacky, and since the patent office issued some-number of patents for quackery, it was entirely plausible that this was one of those beasts. This is the kind of quackery beasty that would latch on to a new discovery or invention and somehow derive and twist the name or concept of the new thing into something fabulous or miraculous (as with the case of radium suppositories and x-ray massages for the bones).
The device is a vibrating element to help people with hearing loss hear conversations on the telephone. On reading the patent though it becomes pretty clear that this thing could work, or should work, depending upon the hearing loss of the receiver. Patented about four years after the Bell patent, there were nearly immediate reports on Mr. Fiske's invention in Scientific American, The Electrical Journal, and Engineering (seen below).
Source: Google Patents.
And from the journal Engineering, volume 30, 1880:
"The Audiptione and the Telephone
In most cases of deafness the auditory nerve itself is defective but there is a proportion of instances in which the apparatus of the ear is at fault For deaf persons which belong to the latter category the American audiphone is very beneficial since it will enable them to hear music and conversation with very little trouble or expense All these instruments consist of an artificial diaphragm of some elastic material capable of vibrating under the impact of the sound waves and of communicating their vibration to the bones of the head and thence to the auditory nerve when held between the teeth Mr Rhodes employed a thin disc of ebonite bent by a cord into a curved form and held before the mouth with the convex side outwards and the edge resting between the teeth Professor Colladon substituted Bristol board for ebonite and Mr Fletcher of Warrington used birch wood veneer in place of Bristol board The latter gentleman now however gets excellent results with a Bimple sheet of stiff brown paper having its edge placed loosely against the teeth and its curved uncreased surface outwards The audiphonic prin ciple has also been applied quite recently to the speaking telephone by Mr HG Fiske of Spring field Massachusetts in order that persons habitually deaf from mechanical not nervous causes may be able to employ that useful apparatus To the centre of the vibrating plate of the telephone is affixed a short rod of wood ebonite or hard elastic substance which can be held between the teeth and allowed to vibrate there so freely that the vibrations of the telephone diaphragm can communicate themselves to the auditory nerve..."
And from the Electric Journal, page 145, 1880:
And from the Scientific American, volume 43, 1880: