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What Are Earmuffs?

by Clara Maxwell
  • Overview

    Even snowmen wear earmuffs today.
    In 1873, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood of Farmington, Maine, tired of suffering cold ears in the icy northern winter, invented the first pair of earmuffs. In 1877, he opened a small factory in his home town. In 1936, the year before his death, the factory produced 400,000 earmuffs.
  • Description

    The first earmuffs consisted of circles made of beaver fur lined with velvet and sewn by Greenwood's grandmother onto a wire loop frame.
  • Improvements in Design

    Experimentation led Greenwood to attach the earmuffs to a flexible spring-steel band that could be coiled to fit in a pocket.
  • Contemporary Earmuffs

    Earmuffs are sold in a wide variety of fabrics, colors and styles. L.L. Bean sells a model that is very close to Greenwood's original earmuffs.
  • Other Functions

    Greenwood's basic earmuff design has also been adapted to serve as the basis for audio and sound-blocking electronic headsets.
  • Fun Fact

    According to The Washington Post, in 2007, Maine held a parade and festivities to celebrate Chester Greenwood, his invention and 130 years of warm ears.
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    References & Resources