If you have been fascinated with visiting the hospital from the early years, you probably remember your old doctor trying to crack jokes with you with an antique stethoscope hanging around his neck.
From the Laennec stethoscope to modern versions, stethoscopes have come a long way in terms of functionality and design. Vintage stethoscopes are different from the modern ones mostly in terms of design. In fact, the early stethoscope does not have any tubing. Going even back further, you will find stethoscopes that were being used before the official bell-type accessories.
Below is an overview of the main 19th century stethoscopes.
1870s Style Ford Stethoscope
The biggest innovation in the medical field happened in America in the late 19th century. W.F. Ford had a number of stethoscope patents. Ford played a big role in the development of the bi-aural stethoscope that is commonly used today.
However, there was one problem with the bi-aural stethoscope: getting the tension right in the tubing was difficult. To get the right tension, W.F. Ford resorted to a quick-fix solution of adding a spring in the middle.
Today, Labtron makes various stethoscopes in Ford’s honor. While the new Labtron stethoscopes do not have the spring system in the middle, the bells are still inspired by the vintage bells. See the picture below of the Labtron stethoscope design we are referring to:
You can find these stethoscopes are Amazon for about $20. So, if you would like to have a collection of vintage-inspired stethoscopes in a Ford-style, the Labtron stethoscope is for you.
Vintage 1940s Obstetrician’s Stethoscope
The vintage wooden stethoscope below was popularly used by obstetricians back in the 1940s in Ukraine as a fetal stethoscope. The monaural stethoscope is currently stored in a Ukrainian military medical warehouse but is sold all over the world to stethoscope enthusiasts, historians and collectors.
The stethoscope looks like a Victorian stethoscope but is has its shaft is a little larger.
This is a rare old stethoscope that is a must-have for anyone interested in collecting different types of stethoscopes or other antique obstetric instruments.
Finally, on this list we have the grandfather of all old fashioned stethoscopes, that is the Sprague Rappaport.
Vintage Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope
The stethoscopes used in the 1940s were stiff and had problems with poor functioning. Sprague and Rappaport decided it was time to give the early stethoscope a new design.
The two laid down the basics of the standard stethoscopes that are used today. With time, Hewlett and Packard started manufacturing Sprague and Rappaport stethoscopes. You won’t, however, find the HP stethoscopes as they are no longer being manufactured. Your best bet would be to find them at a site selling medical collectibles or at eBay.
Many companies jumped to making Sprague Rappaport stethoscopes over the years. MDF is, perhaps, the most well-known company that put most of their focus on the Sprague Rapport stethoscopes.
Where to Buy Vintage Stethoscopes
Unfortunately, it is not easy to find a retro stethoscope. However, if you are lucky, you can find some through garage sales.
There are also a couple of websites where you can find the old fashioned stethoscopes. Here are some of the top sites we recommend if you are looking for antique stethoscopes for sale.
Finally, you can also find antique stethoscopes at the classifieds sections of online medical forums.