I thought it would be fun to look at the changes made to eyeglasses throughout the ages.
The first pair of what we would consider eyeglasses appeared in the late 1400s in Pisa, Italy. These eyeglasses actually looked like two small magnifying glasses (made with convex-shaped glass) riveted together at the top of their handles. The Museum of Vision notes that early eyeglasses were mostly used by monks and scholars.
Lorgnettes were popular in France. A lorgnette is, quite simply, a pair of spectacles mounted on a handle. It was an indispensable accessory for the 19th century lady about town.
The rarest, and most expensive, lorgnettes are those commissioned to have a watch embedded within the handle.
As the 19th Century ended, tastes changed toward more inexpensive, everyday spectacles such as the pince-nez. French for “pinch nose,” the pince-nez was first developed in France circa 1840 and began to be imported to America after the 1850s. Their popularity was helped by political figures such as Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge who wore them regularly.
The American Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing bifocals in the mid 1700s. He split one lens in half, with the upper part being made for distance viewing and the lower part for near viewing. Antique Spectacles notes that Franklin wrote to London philanthropist George Whatley in May 1785, “As I wear my own glasses constantly, I have only to move my eyes up or down, as I want to see distinctly far or near, the proper glasses being always ready.”
For most of the 1940s, round circle sunglasses with thick plastic frames were the trendy fashionable look.
Some people are famous for their eyeglasses like:
What’s new: smart glasses are wearable computer glasses that add information alongside or to what the wearer sees.