Seeing is believing – Eyeglasses, Spectacles & Shades

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

~Jonathan Swift


I just got my reading glasses fixed and returned so I am excited to report you will be seeing more blog articles from me this month. The past few weeks I have been struggling to keep up with the 14 hour+ computer days without the extra help of my brown Belgium eyeglasses.

Wish I could show you my old glasses from the 1980’s – they were peach coloured and thick framed. All I got now is these!

My days without them lead me to think; when were eyeglasses invented and what styles were popular over the years.

It all began in Pisa, Italy sometime between the 1268-1289, the invented date remains closest to 1286 and the inventor remains unknown.

Initially eye glasses were worn by mainly scholars and monks. By the 1700’s there were a few different types of glasses in the works including, Wig spectacles which extended beyond the ears and boasted mainly round lens frames. They were called “wig” since the majority of people that would wear them were men with powdered wigs.

Martin Margins (circa 1750’s) were vision-oriented glasses. Benjamin Martin not only provided the world with reading glasses but ones that corrected vision. Next in this timeline was Benjamin Franklin who invented the historical Bifocals and the power to have eyeglasses with a split-lens purpose.

Scissor spectacles then came about which were used by those who did not want to wear eyeglasses. They really looked like a pair of scissors and specialized in distance vision. They could be rather plain or intriguingly ornate. Lorgnettes glasses (glasses with a handle) launched in the late 1700’s and were seen in the hands of women in the 1800’s.

By the 1900’s the eyeglasses industry started to take off and fashion [styling] started to become part of the everyday pair. More and more styles became prevalent.

Surprise to me – it was not until the 1930’s that sunglasses took off and made their mark in history.

I used to be told wearing eyeglasses was a sign of old age or weakness. I remember throwing my glasses at age four into my backpack and hiding them in there all day until school was done. I did this until I was 17.  I imagine overtime a ton of people lived with impaired vision for either vanity related or affordability reasons.

Now-a-days eyeglasses are a fashion staple [geek chic] I see people wearing fake/non-prescription eyeglasses just for the clark kent or naughty librarian look.

Interestingly enough some pretty famous people have been flagged as being spectacle wearers at one point in time. Whether it was Catherine the Great a ruling female leader of Russia, Ludwig van Beethoven a German composer of Classical music,  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson American poet or Claude Monet French impressionist – glasses were around or by their bedside.

If you find yourself at an antique shop and see a pair of some old school frames I say pick them up, it is hard to come by antique glasses these days [especially in good shape] and you never know what someone will pay you for their own little piece of face history.

One thought on “Seeing is believing – Eyeglasses, Spectacles & Shades

  1. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this outstanding blog!
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    Chat soon!

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