The Spectacle

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One of the most striking decorative innovations for cat eye glasses was the creation of “brows”. This phrase describes a range of different sculptural, applique, and decorative effects that appear on the top edges of vintage cat eye glasses' eyerims. These decorative extensions appear here because of the limitations imposed by the need to make glasses that can be worn on the human face.
Extensions on the bottom of the eyerims would press on the nose and cheeks, lifting the lenses above comfortable eye height and causing discomfort to the wearer. Brows, however, allow the artistic ingenuity of the designers to run riot while still producing practical, comfortable glasses: the best of both worlds, the utilitarian and the ornamental.

One of the most striking decorative innovations for cat eye glasses was the creation of “brows”. This phrase describes a range of different sculptural, applique, and decorative effects that appear on the top edges of vintage cat eye glasses' eyerims. These decorative extensions appear here because of the limitations imposed by the need to make glasses that can be worn on the human face.

Extensions on the bottom of the eyerims would press on the nose and cheeks, lifting the lenses above comfortable eye height and causing discomfort to the wearer. Brows, however, allow the artistic ingenuity of the designers to run riot while still producing practical, comfortable glasses: the best of both worlds, the utilitarian and the ornamental.

When considering Civil War spectacles, it is perhaps ironic that the man who did more than any other American entrepreneur to create the immense popularity of pince nez glasses and their successors, Oxfords – John Jacob Bausch, an immigrant from Germany who arrived in the United States with the superior manufacturing techniques of the Old World in his brain – and his company – Bausch & Lomb – should also be largely responsible for the most significant advances in spectacle design of the mid-19th century.
A massive disconnect with the styles and engineering of spectacles of the immediately preceding period is clear to even a casual glance. The spectacles of Benjamin Franklin’s and George Washington’s times featured round lenses to the exclusion of nearly any other shape, and the double-hinged flat strap temples that tied around the head or secured to the powdered wigs of 18th century “fashion plates”. Antique eyeglasses from the Civil war era have a very different arrangement.
The lenses of Civil War spectacles were almost all either oval or an elongated octagon (a horizontally stretched rectangle with the corners cut off). Round lenses from the time of Gettysburg and Bull Run are very rare indeed. The temples also have a very different look. Most of these changes can be traced by inference to Bausch & Lomb, who owned a large market share in spectacle sales as well as being the undisputed kings of pince nez, soaring in popularity thanks to wartime conditions.

When considering Civil War spectacles, it is perhaps ironic that the man who did more than any other American entrepreneur to create the immense popularity of pince nez glasses and their successors, Oxfords – John Jacob Bausch, an immigrant from Germany who arrived in the United States with the superior manufacturing techniques of the Old World in his brain – and his company – Bausch & Lomb – should also be largely responsible for the most significant advances in spectacle design of the mid-19th century.

A massive disconnect with the styles and engineering of spectacles of the immediately preceding period is clear to even a casual glance. The spectacles of Benjamin Franklin’s and George Washington’s times featured round lenses to the exclusion of nearly any other shape, and the double-hinged flat strap temples that tied around the head or secured to the powdered wigs of 18th century “fashion plates”. Antique eyeglasses from the Civil war era have a very different arrangement.


The lenses of Civil War spectacles were almost all either oval or an elongated octagon (a horizontally stretched rectangle with the corners cut off). Round lenses from the time of Gettysburg and Bull Run are very rare indeed. The temples also have a very different look. Most of these changes can be traced by inference to Bausch & Lomb, who owned a large market share in spectacle sales as well as being the undisputed kings of pince nez, soaring in popularity thanks to wartime conditions.

Safety goggles have had a longer history than most people realize, and some in the form of Windsor eyeglasses date back to the first years of the 20th century. In fact, a French medieval helmet has been found with clear mica in the visors, or “vision slits”, to keep splintered lances or the knives of opponents from finding their way through. Vintage Safety glasses only became widespread in the 19th century, though, and even at that time, it was limited to a few lucky workers, as well as early motor car drivers.
Several different substances were used to make safety glass lenses fro vintage eyeglasses in the immediate wake of the American Civil War, at a point when industrialization was taking hold rapidly and more people than ever were being exposed to potentially blinding factory processes. The materials used included mica – which was also called “isinglass”, and was used for covering peepholes in early Model T Ford cars – and “marine glass”. These safety glasses, which already had a Windsor eyeglasses-like configuration, were rare and expensive, however.
The early 20th century witnessed the creation of the first effective, mass-produced safety antique eyeglasses. These were created by (or under the direction of) Walter King, the inheritor of the Julius King Optical Company of Cleveland from his father. King was motivated by seeing the massive orders for glass eyes in the industrial cities of the United States, indicating the high rate at which factory workers were being maimed by dangerous industrial processes.

Safety goggles have had a longer history than most people realize, and some in the form of Windsor eyeglasses date back to the first years of the 20th century. In fact, a French medieval helmet has been found with clear mica in the visors, or “vision slits”, to keep splintered lances or the knives of opponents from finding their way through. Vintage Safety glasses only became widespread in the 19th century, though, and even at that time, it was limited to a few lucky workers, as well as early motor car drivers.

Several different substances were used to make safety glass lenses fro vintage eyeglasses in the immediate wake of the American Civil War, at a point when industrialization was taking hold rapidly and more people than ever were being exposed to potentially blinding factory processes. The materials used included mica – which was also called “isinglass”, and was used for covering peepholes in early Model T Ford cars – and “marine glass”. These safety glasses, which already had a Windsor eyeglasses-like configuration, were rare and expensive, however.

The early 20th century witnessed the creation of the first effective, mass-produced safety antique eyeglasses. These were created by (or under the direction of) Walter King, the inheritor of the Julius King Optical Company of Cleveland from his father. King was motivated by seeing the massive orders for glass eyes in the industrial cities of the United States, indicating the high rate at which factory workers were being maimed by dangerous industrial processes.

The Mischief supra – true cats eye glasses in supra form
The end of the 1950s saw true cat’s eye glasses emerge in Birch’s product range, in the form of the Mischief supra. These supra glasses featured the usual arrangements – solid brows and bridge, with wires to support the lenses. The lenses, however, had an elongated, tilted shape, and the wires are positioned to accommodate them. The brows are upswept and wrought of dark red material fading to white at the bridge in almost painterly fashion. The temples were fairly plain other than color – the lenses and the brows were the selling points of these sleek, semi-rimless supra vintage eyewear.

The Mischief supra – true cats eye glasses in supra form

The end of the 1950s saw true cat’s eye glasses emerge in Birch’s product range, in the form of the Mischief supra. These supra glasses featured the usual arrangements – solid brows and bridge, with wires to support the lenses. The lenses, however, had an elongated, tilted shape, and the wires are positioned to accommodate them. The brows are upswept and wrought of dark red material fading to white at the bridge in almost painterly fashion. The temples were fairly plain other than color – the lenses and the brows were the selling points of these sleek, semi-rimless supra vintage eyewear.

Vintage eyeglasses designers, just like their modern counterparts, have striven to offer something new and different to their clientele with each release. In doing so, they have created a fascinating panoply of styles, gimmicks, and quirky details which immensely enrich the history of vintage eyewear and reveal the endless eccentricity of which the human mind is capable. In the days of the Fifties, when fashion was bursting out in an exuberant flowering following the austerity of the war years, Ian Prince, an English company, made some of the most unusual cats eye glasses of the period.
Since eyeglasses had become a fully acceptable fashion accessory and statement of good taste during this time – thanks in great measure to the need for skilled workers during the early 20th century, necessitating the education of clever children with poor eyesight and thus making the donning of eyewear a mainstream activity – people naturally wanted glasses for every occasion.

Vintage eyeglasses designers, just like their modern counterparts, have striven to offer something new and different to their clientele with each release. In doing so, they have created a fascinating panoply of styles, gimmicks, and quirky details which immensely enrich the history of vintage eyewear and reveal the endless eccentricity of which the human mind is capable. In the days of the Fifties, when fashion was bursting out in an exuberant flowering following the austerity of the war years, Ian Prince, an English company, made some of the most unusual cats eye glasses of the period.

Since eyeglasses had become a fully acceptable fashion accessory and statement of good taste during this time – thanks in great measure to the need for skilled workers during the early 20th century, necessitating the education of clever children with poor eyesight and thus making the donning of eyewear a mainstream activity – people naturally wanted glasses for every occasion.

Cat eye glasses can be the best accessory to any outfit, get a pair that goes with your style and matches what you have in your closet.Have fun pairing your style to your glasses, and enjoy the glances of approval.Checkout our wide array of specs here!

Cat eye glasses can be the best accessory to any outfit, get a pair that goes with your style and matches what you have in your closet.

Have fun pairing your style to your glasses, and enjoy the glances of approval.

Checkout our wide array of specs here!

We’re still thinking about September 11th. The internet was full of beautiful and moving pictures and stories, but this one really stands out. Everyone should see this. 

Our hearts and minds are with all the families of the fallen, and all our boys and girls over seas. 

Come home safe. 

Tortoise shell eyeglasses provide a warm, colorful contrast with the colder, though still attractive, sheen of all metal antique eyeglasses, and this material was actually part of an interesting trend with the Oxfords of the early 20th century: the emergence of masculine and feminine styles of vintage glasses rather than the unisex eyewear of the previous centuries.
This was to have important consequences for later generations’ antique spectacles, also. Though the cat eye glasses of the 1950s, 1960s, and to some extent the modern day bear no resemblance to Oxfords, the idea of masculine and feminine eyewear led to the development of styles meant to be elegant and ladylike (such as cat eyes) or rugged and macho, enriching the eyeglass scene for many decades to come by encouraging development of different styles for different customers. 

Tortoise shell eyeglasses provide a warm, colorful contrast with the colder, though still attractive, sheen of all metal antique eyeglasses, and this material was actually part of an interesting trend with the Oxfords of the early 20th century: the emergence of masculine and feminine styles of vintage glasses rather than the unisex eyewear of the previous centuries.

This was to have important consequences for later generations’ antique spectacles, also. Though the cat eye glasses of the 1950s, 1960s, and to some extent the modern day bear no resemblance to Oxfords, the idea of masculine and feminine eyewear led to the development of styles meant to be elegant and ladylike (such as cat eyes) or rugged and macho, enriching the eyeglass scene for many decades to come by encouraging development of different styles for different customers. 

Sunglasses have had a surprisingly long history, dating back to the boundary of the Medieval era and the Renaissance, and the American vintage sunglasses in the 19th century are the continuation of a long tradition of tinted, sun-defeating lenses for the comfort of those outdoors in the summer glare. Venice was a center of production, with its skilled artisans being kept literally as highly-paid prisoners by the Venetian government lest they seek employment outside the canal-laced city. 
Most of these early sunglasses, imported from Europe, have curious D-shaped eyerims and lenses, with the flat side of the D facing the outer edges of the vintage glasses and the curved side flanking the nose. Since pince nez had not yet been invented, all American sunglasses prior to Bausch’s era were spectacles, with the characteristic D-shaped lenses and temples to tie around the head with cords or ribbons.

Sunglasses have had a surprisingly long history, dating back to the boundary of the Medieval era and the Renaissance, and the American vintage sunglasses in the 19th century are the continuation of a long tradition of tinted, sun-defeating lenses for the comfort of those outdoors in the summer glare. Venice was a center of production, with its skilled artisans being kept literally as highly-paid prisoners by the Venetian government lest they seek employment outside the canal-laced city. 

Most of these early sunglasses, imported from Europe, have curious D-shaped eyerims and lenses, with the flat side of the D facing the outer edges of the vintage glasses and the curved side flanking the nose. Since pince nez had not yet been invented, all American sunglasses prior to Bausch’s era were spectacles, with the characteristic D-shaped lenses and temples to tie around the head with cords or ribbons.

The rebirth of cat eye glasses in our culture has once again shown that true fashion never fades away.
With the variety of colors and shapes that they come in, you should have no problem finding the pair that works perfectly for your face and particular coloring. 
To paraphrase Ollivander the wand maker, “the glasses choose you!” 
Check out our huge variety here:) 

The rebirth of cat eye glasses in our culture has once again shown that true fashion never fades away.

With the variety of colors and shapes that they come in, you should have no problem finding the pair that works perfectly for your face and particular coloring. 

To paraphrase Ollivander the wand maker, “the glasses choose you!” 

Check out our huge variety here:)