Ammoniaphone box, English, 1871-1900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Ammoniaphone was invented by Dr Carter Moffatt and manufactured by the Medical Battery Co, London. It was marketed as a device for the improvement of vocal tone and power and was recommended for vocalists, public speakers and clergymen. It also claimed to relieve coughs, asthma and throat or chest problems. The label inside the box gives instructions for the user, who would place the device in their mouth and inhale the aroma (supposed to resemble Italian air) inside. Although it had to be returned to the supplier for renewal, the ammoniaphone was probably only a device to hold aromatic ammonia spirits, or smelling salts.