We specialize in vintage eyeglasses, antique spectacles, related tools and optical equipment. Browse the following examples of our vintage eyeglass frames, antique eyeglasses, retro frames, and spectacles. We have more than 17,000 pair of vintage eyeglasses in stock (1580-1965). Contact us by e mail for a list of our current inventory.
18th century spectacles . . . We carry spectacles
from 1700 to 1790. We often have examples by the early makers such as Benjamin
Martin, Adams, and Edward Scarlett. We sometimes have scissor glasses, Chinese
glasses, and Nuremberg made spectacles. The selling price of 18th century
spectacles starts around $225. Most are priced between $300 and $400. Rare
examples are priced accordingly.
19th century spectacles . . . We have an extensive selection of 19th century spectacles and eyeglasses. Most date between 1820 and 1900. We always have sliding temple spectacles in silver, brass, and iron. We usually have a few examples made by American makers. The selling price of 19th century spectacles is between $35. and $85. A few examples in silver and gold will be priced between $150 and $250. Rare examples are priced accordingly.
19th century riding temple spectacles . . . Eyeglasses with cable temples that loop behind the ears were introduced by American Optical Company in 1885. This improvement in eyeglass frames was made possible by the introduction of Bessemer Steel (spring steel) in the late 1860's. Before the invention of spring steel, all spectacle and eyeglass temples were straight. This invention is credited to an American Optical Company employee who trained Morgan horses as a hobby. His straight temple eyeglasses would not stay on his face. He had a designer at American Optical make a pair of temples with the new spring steel. They worked so well that American Optical Company patented this new temple design.
Civil War spectacles . . . We usually have a good selection of spectacles used during the Civil War era. Many spectacles of that time were sold in general stores, like the reading glasses now sold in most drug stores. The buyer simply tried on different frames untill he or she could see written text clearly. We have recently bought a collection of frames popular during this period. Although they were made in northers states, they were used by soilders on both sides during the war.
In fact, Abraham Lincoln had a pair. Lincoln bought his from a general store in Washington, D. C. for $2.75. The store owner never cashed the check in order to keep Lincoln's signiture. Lincoln's spectacles are owned by the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Click here to see images of these frames. Our Civil War spectacles are priced between $40 and $80,
Windsor Eyeglasses . . . The Windsor style was popular from 1880 until 1920. This style is being reproduced because of its popularity today. We carry a selection of original Windsor glasses suitable for holding modern prescriptions.
Lorgnettes . . . We usually have a good selection of Lorgnett, Oxfords, and Pince-nez.
We carry these items in gold, sterling, gold filled, tortoise shell, plastic, and many other materials. Prices range from $35 to several hundred dollars.
Early 20th century eyeglasses . . . We carry an extensive selection of eyeglasses that date from 1900 to 1970. We have a good selection of rimless glasses from the 1930s - 1950's. Rimless came in three styles, 3 piece, 2 screw Cortland, 4 screw Cortland. We also carry round metal framed glasses that were popular in the 1930's - 1940's. These frames came with either round or ovid lenses. Prices for 20th century eyeglasses start at $40. Designer eyewear is priced accordingly.
Solid gold eyeglasses . . . We carry a selection of solid gold eyeglass frames. Most gold frames date between 1850 and 1930. Our selection includes gold eyeglass frames, gold pince-nez, and gold lorgnettes. The eyeglass and pince-nez frames will hold modern prescriptions. The lorgnette frames will hold modern reading prescriptions.
Early Plastic (Horn Rim) Eyeglasses . . . Between 1900 and 1930 manufacturers experimented with the just introduced plastics as a material for eyeglass frames. The generic name for this style is "Horn rim" because the new plastic was used to simulate horn, tortoise shell, baleen, and other natural materials. Many of these new plastics were unstable. Frames made from these early plastics turn bridle with exposure to light and are easily broken. Because of this, few useable examples have survived. I always have a few plastic horn rim frames in stock. I sell these frames with the understanding that they may break in the process of installing new lenses. They may also break after being worn and exposed to light. Collectors who want an example of early plastic frames in their collection should display these frames in an area out of direct sunlight.
1950's and 1960's Designer Eyeglasses . . . We recently purchased a large warehouse stock of unsold designer glasses from the 1950's and 1960's including many Catseye frames. The glasses were made in France, Italy, and in the US. The lot also included many horned rimmed and heavy plastic frames popular in the late 60's. To make ordering easier, we gave each style and color its own number. Please order by number, color, and price.
If you have questions, send e mail.
Rare and one-of-a-kind spectacles. From time to time we are fortunate enough to be able to offer rare and one-of-a-kind spectacles. If this section is clickable, your click will bring you to photographs of our current offerings. Always interested in buying 16th and 17th century spectacles. Top prices paid for rare finds.
Eyeglass and Spectacle Cases I have a large selection of cases that range in age from 1727 through 1960. Most of the cases are steel, leather, or pressed paper. From time to time I am lucky enough to find sterling and gold cases. Price range varies with age.
Famous People Wearing Glasses. This page contains images of famous people wearing glasses. I am constantly adding to these images and appreciate help from people who visit this page. Please let me know if you would like someone added and where I can find an image. Current images include: John Lennon, Buddy Holly, Malcolm X, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry S Truman, and others.
Glasses in Movies, Books, and on Stage.. I receive many inquries for glasses similar to those worn by actors in movies and on stage. If the charactor portrayed is a real life person, eyeglass frames can be found in one of the catagories listed above. For fictional characters such as the one played by Laurence Fishburne in the "Matrix,"click on Matrix samples for images. The pince-nez frames used in the Matrix date from 1900, give or take a few years. The prescription lenses have been replaced with colored sunglass lenses.
"Harry Potter," Eyeglasses worn by the fictional character "Harry Potter" are similar to a style introduced in 1880 that remained popular until 1920. This style had a wire frame covered with an early type of plastic called zylo. Click on Harry Potter for samples of this style eyeglass frames.