The Exciting World of Vintage Eyeglasses

2 May

Eyeglasses have been made in many shapes, colors, and styles across the years, as the tides of fashion ebb and flow, and both manufacturing techniques and materials technology evolve over time. The glasses of yesteryear do not look like those sold today, and the further back in time you go, the more distinct eyeglass styles generally look from contemporary designs.

This opens up many exciting possibilities for you to express your personal sartorial approach, or for experimenting with a refreshing new look. Whether you are looking for something stylish, elegant, and boldly artistic, a fun and funky set of eyeglasses from the 60’s or 80’s, or anything in between, the past offers you a huge storehouse of delightful accessories that will help you to stand out from the crowd and express your individuality.

Since vintage eyeglasses come from the fairly recent past – with older eyeglasses falling into the category of antiques instead – they include many examples of visionware that have never been worn. The lenses may be have been replaced to meet modern standards of optics, but the frames may never have rested on another nose beside your own.

Though materials technology has advanced swiftly in the past few decades, vintage eyeglasses often show better construction than their modern counterparts. The eyeglasses from the bygone era display craftsmanship that is unknown in most of the products found in our age of cheap, disposable, mass produced glasses from China and Pakistan. Indeed, it is often possible to identify vintage glasses simply by the fact that they were made in the United States or Italy rather than the Far East, since almost nothing is manufactured in the west today.

These twin qualities of distinctive, highly attractive styling (which is usually timeless in the sense that it looks just as elegant or fun with contemporary clothing as it did with the original garb it was worn with) and superior craftsmanship are good enough reasons to seek out vintage eyeglasses for your use. However, these vintage eyeware items offer more than just high quality and attractiveness. They also conjure up the life and color of the times they were made in.

Past times – and the cultural movements and achievements of those eras – are brought alive by wearing an authentic item from that period. Your vintage glasses may remind you of anything from the days of Elvis Presley and all the excitement and energy of this versatile and wildly popular singer, to the heady days of the late Cold War period in the 1980s, when freedom was making inroads into the Communist hegemony in the east and the optimism of coming peace was in the air.

Whether you just want to collect them for the sake of their aesthetics, or intend to wear them to give your vision aids a unique bit of flair, vintage eyeglasses deliver a certain something that today’s equivalents simply can’t match. Whether you’re aiming for a mood of wistful nostalgia or are recapturing the fun, brilliance, and energy of some of the recent past’s most colorful moments, this visionware offers everything you need to bring a bold touch of the vintage to your face.

Check out this site for a large selection of vintage pince nez eyeglasses


John Lennon Style Eyeglasses

19 Mar

The musical creativity and the energy of the counterculture movement are encapsulated in John Lennon style eyeglasses, a type of vintage eyeglasses which are a modified version of the older Windsor glasses. With perfectly round lenses (usually tinted to serve as sunglasses, a practical detail for musicians participating in outdoor concerts), thin wire fittings, and nose pads for additional comfort and grip on the nose, these vintage eyeglasses have stood the test of time and are just as striking and stylish today as when the famous Beatle first donned them back in the 60’s.

With their association with drug culture and the hippy movement in general, John Lennon style eyeglasses were often crafted with exaggerated proportions and psychedelic colors. This offers you plenty of opportunities for getting a fun pair of vintage eyeglasses that are sure to make you the center of attention in any informal gathering, and provide plenty of material for conversation – and perhaps for reminiscence or nostalgia for the musical abundance and exuberance of the 1960s.

This diversity offers you a huge choice when you decide to wear or collect John Lennon style eyeglasses. Although it is unlikely that, like many of the original wearers, you will be wearing these vintage glasses specifically to conceal pupils shrunken by the effects of heroin, which was one of their original functions, you can recapture plenty of the energy and fun of the era regardless of your personal beliefs regarding the drug culture of the 60’s.

You can elect to wear more restrained versions of John Lennon style eyeglasses – which, indeed, seem to have been the type preferred by John Lennon himself. These vintage eye glasses have normally sized frames and lenses, and slender, silver or gold wires more in line with the look favored by Mahatma Gandhi than that flaunted by Jackie Onassis. Or, you can elect to wear some of the most extravagant types, with their sizzling colors and startling, overblown proportions – eyeglasses that seem to declare that the world is full of possibilities, and that the “sky’s the limit”.

John Lennon style eyeglasses existed for some time before the star took to wearing them, but it was photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono to make the vintage eyeglasses powerful symbols of the groovy and the cool – and to catapult them to immense popularity and fame, capable of overshadowing the wildest successes of any preceding visionwear.

The sheer variety of John Lennon style eyeglasses produced and marketed presents the enthusiast with a near embarrassment of riches. With a wild array of different sizes and details, from the conservative to the surreal, and a nearly psychotropic range of colors for both frames and lenses, your biggest problem will be choosing which to purchase for your collection. Many types of these glasses are now rare, possibly unique, due to low production numbers of many models and the attrition of time, so if you see an especially tempting pair, be sure to snap them up – you may never find a similar pair of John Lennon style eyeglasses again.

Antique Eyeglasses – Wearable Treasures out of Time

11 Mar

Eyeglasses have existed – in the form of “spectacles” – since the late Medieval period, though they were originally expensive enough to be confined to scholars, nobles, merchants, and other well-to-do individuals. Antique eyeglasses this old are so rare that most are found only in museums or private collections today, but there are many more recent antique eyeglasses that you can buy and make use of either as collectibles, or as a very distinctive eyewear fashion statement.

Given that eyeglasses more than a generation or two old already count as antiques, you have an immense choice when it comes to picking antique eyeglasses to match your sense of style. You can pick glasses based on their appearance, on their evocation of your favorite period of history, or perhaps a combination of the two.

There are many historic photographs and paintings of famous figures wearing such antique eyeglasses as Windsor eyeglasses, pince nez, lorgnettes, rivet spectacles, and some of the other countless varieties of visionwear that human ingenuity and changing technical capabilities have generated across the centuries.

Many of these antique eyeglasses display a spare, lean design that gives them a timeless dignity that complements any wardrobe, while others are decorative and opulent. Some were crafted with strikingly unusual shapes that appeared only at that point in time, and will truly stand out as a unique and individual “signature piece” among your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

Antique eyeglasses are almost always pre-owned – it is very unlikely to find an unopened factory box of spectacles from the 1840s, for example, and if such antique eyeglasses were found, they would probably be sold at one of the major auction houses for an astronomical figure.

However, the fact that these glasses (unlike vintage eyeglasses) were worn by someone else in the distant past does not lessen their value. In fact, this makes the antique eyeglasses even more appealing – you will be looking through the frames which once gazed out upon scenes of history that today exist only as artifacts and written accounts. You will probably need to put modern lenses into the antique eyeglasses if you mean to use them as day to day eyewear, however, as the old lenses are either substandard by modern medical standards, or else are scratched and dimmed by time.

Alternatively, you can choose to collect antique eyeglasses rather than obtaining them for distinctive day to day wearing. Like any other antique collectible, you will want to explore as many different types as possible, find unusual models from the past, and determine their date of manufacture and use as closely as you can, in order to fill out the “story” of your collection and link it to the times and events where these glasses were usually worn.

More recent vintage eyeglasses are most suitable for actual wearing – nobody in their right mind would remove the original lenses from a pair of 17th century spectacles, for example, since this would destroy both their monetary and their historic value. Antique eyeglasses are an intriguing and idiosyncratic part of our past and help to connect us both to the day to day visual needs of our ancestors – and perhaps the events and times they witnessed, too. 

Cat Eye Glasses: bring out your true self

4 Mar

Among some of the most glitzy of vintage eyeglasses, cat eye glasses are fun collect and fun to wear, too. Emblematic of lighthearted chic, and bringing images of cars with fins, the fresh sounds of early rock music, and the post Second World War era of Hollywood blockbusters and entertainment into the mind, cat eye glasses are a style of visionwear that immediately call up a positive, upbeat mood and a sense of fashionable energy from the 1960s or 1970s.

When you put on cat eye glasses, you will immediately feel like a movie star or a supermodel from the glamorous, optimistic days of the middle 20th century. This was a time when modernity was still youthful and electrifying, and the cultural mood was one of hope and confidence. The cynicism and dark cultural self-doubts of our own era were both unknown and undreamed of at that time, and when you wear these boldly elegant vintage eyeglasses, you will be able to recapture a bit of that lost blitheness – though perhaps tinged with a bit of nostalgia, as well.

There are many different shapes of cat eye glasses. Some of these vintage eyeglasses have large, rounded frames, with the cat eye shape present mostly as an upward point at the upper corner of each lens on the outer side. These glasses have the advantage that they can be fitted with a large lens, making them comfortable to wear while working or reading for a long period of time.

Narrower cat eye glasses feature frames that have a true “cat eye” shape – narrow, sharply pointed at both ends, tilted strongly upwards at the sides. These glasses have a very striking effect when worn, giving you a sleek and voguish look even while wearing clothing of contemporary cut.

Diverse shapes and the sweeping, bold, stylish lines found in the great array of cat eye glasses produced during the course of several decades both help to keep your options open in several ways. If you are looking for only one pair of vintage eyeglasses, then you can find a shape that matches the exact “look” and feel that you want to project. With so many different imaginative variations, however, buying several different kinds of cat eye glasses will let you vary the exact impression you give depending on your costume or the occasion.

Many cat eye glasses have extra decorative details that add to their individuality and glamor. Some designers added in extravagant flourishes and sweeps to the shape of the lenses, providing an almost sculptural look – or the contour of a wave in motion, captured in plastic or metal. Others inserted patterns of rhinestones into the frames’ wider portions, giving you the chance to acquire vintage eyeglasses that literally scintillate.

With so many different designs and so much creativity and fun on display, cat eye glasses offer much to both the “fashion plate” and the collector today. Simultaneously evocative of the enchantment of the past high life, and providing timeless polish to your personal style, cat eye glasses are some of the most exciting vintage eyeglasses that you can add to your wardrobe.


Check out this etsy store for a great selection of of real vintage cat eye glasses.


Pince Nez – Among the Most Popular Antique Eyeglasses

29 Feb

Pince-nez are literally “nose pinchers” – the spectacles lacking temples which appear in the earliest of movies at times, and have been seen in various forms as recently as the Matrix films and other forms of popular entertainment. The frames are simply a double loop around two round lens, with a short bridge connecting them. Typically, the frame is made from springy metal, and the eyeglasses stay in place by pinching the bridge of the nose firmly between their inner edges.

Pince nez were manufactured in various forms for several centuries, thanks to their immense popularity, which extended across many human generations. Their spare dimensions and light weight probably go a long way towards explaining the persistent high esteem in which they were held. They also cover much less of the face than modern or antique eyeglasses, since they have no temples (the two arms which extend back to hook over the ears).

More examples of pince nez are intriguing examples of mechanical technology applied to making a form of antique eyeglasses that can be put on and taken off almost instantaneously using only two fingers. These pince nez are known as fingerpiece pince nez, though there are several other alternate names.

Basically, there are two small spring-loaded pads which can be opened by pressing on a pair of tiny levers; releasing the levers causes the pads to close, gripping the nose if it is between them. Thus, with a simple motion of two fingers, you can clip this type of pince nez solidly and reliably onto your nose, or lift them away just as readily.

There are several different mechanical variations on the pince nez, and those who are collecting these antique eyeglasses rather than looking for a pair or two for wearing may wish to seek out these diverse examples of human ingenuity and craftsmanship.

Pince nez eyeglasses are not comfortable vintage eyeglasses to wear over a long period of time, since they keep their position on your face by squeezing your nose between two thin rims of metal. However, the same old movies and pictures that preserve images of these extremely popular items of visionwear also inform us of the best way to use them and yet keep your nose from developing a pair of permanent dents.

Attaching a light chain, ribbon, or cord to the pince nez and fixing the other end of this to one of your upper buttonholes will let you keep these antique eyeglasses conveniently to hand without needing to wear them on your nose for more than a few minutes. Choosing this attachment carefully will let you adjust the appearance and impression of your glasses, too – a colored silk ribbon will project a very different sartorial impression than will a fine silver chain, for example.

There are few more distinctive pieces of eyewear in the world than pince nez, or ones which evoke the days of the First World War or the preceding decades so strongly. Though pince nez continued in common use until the days of the Great Depression, they conjure up the era of the great African explorations, the first famous aviators, and the final days of the British Empire – the genteel yet adventurous culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Antique Eyeglasses from the British Colonies

12 Feb

By the time the first European settlements were established in North America, vision correcting spectacles had already existed for over three hundred years, following their invention near Pisa by an unknown Italian lens grinder in the late 13th century. Though they are extremely rare today, antique eyeglasses from the British colonies (or, if you prefer, pre-Revolutionary America) offer the collector an intriguing subject and a fascinating glimpse of the vision technology of a bygone era.

As was to continue to be the case for a surprisingly long time, pre-Revolutionary antique eyeglasses were made with precision ground lenses from the production centers in Europe, including Venice’s famous Murano lenses as well as other examples from Germany or England. The lenses produced by these centers were high quality and cheap, and the British colonists lacked both the resources and ambition to make their own whe n good lenses were so easily available.

Frames were often made locally, however, and the spectacles of the period often sported horn frames made of heated and tempered horn carved into the appropriate shape by a “horner” or “hornworker”. This was a period when important advances were made in spectacles technology, which appear trivial to us now but which were critical in making this eyewear more practical in its own day.

Early American eyeglasses

            Antique spectacles from the New World colonies of England usually included European lenses, but the frames were manufactured locally, more often than not, from horn or leather. Leather was boiled, which initially softened it, at which time it was molded into the slender, round lens frames and connecting bridge of early spectacles. When it hardened, this leather was extremely robust and hard, and, if stored in dry conditions, easily survive to the modern day.

Most of the early American eyeglasses you are likely to find if you are a collector interested in this period will probably have either leather or horn rims, but metal was used as well. The spectacles of this period have the two lens frames connected by an arching bridge, rather than being riveted together.

This was a critical advance that allowed the glasses to stay on the nose without being constantly held in place, and only occurred around 1600 according to some authorities, allowing you to date the spectacles fairly accurately. In short, “rivet spectacles” were never used in the American colonies, only bridge spectacles.

Fancy British (and American) spectacles from this period

            Since, at that time, the future United States were still colonies of Great Britain, more affluent people often sported high quality spectacles from England if they needed vision aids. These were often made with silver frames, and bear the fancy monograms of well known silversmiths, or depictions of one of the English kings from the period (as a disembodied male head).

They are basically collectible English spectacles, and it would likely be difficult or impossible to prove that they were worn in the American colonies. They are, nevertheless, often splendid collectibles and evoke the elegant society of the period as few other surviving artifacts can. There are also a few colonial frames from the end of this period bearing identifiable American hallmarks, which are particularly interesting to collectors of early American antique eyeglasses.

Check out this Etsy shop for a large selection of cat eye glasses.