The wire rim frames that characterized 1800s eyewear created a memorable vintage look with the thin wire frames, small lenses, and curved cable temples. Our inventory at Eyeglasses Warehouse has a large selection of antique glasses frames that you can customize with colorful tinted lenses to be a unique pair of antique sunglasses.
Eyeglasses Warehouse sells vintage wire frame glasses in a range of styles including gold rim glasses, Windsor glasses, round glasses, pince nez sunglasses, and more. All of our genuine antique frames from the 19th century are ready for you to switch out the lenses to create a unique pair of 1800s sunglasses.
About Our Collection of Antique Wire Rim Sunglasses
Sunglasses had a much different role in the 1800s than they do today. Far from being a fashionable accessory to keep anyone comfortable by blocking sunlight and glare, the use of sunglasses was more often limited to a select few, often for medical purposes. These could be those who had sensitive eyes from a medical condition, were legally blind, or who could have various visual impairments like astigmatism corrected by tinted lenses.
Vintage sunglasses could also be sharpshooter glasses to help in aiming a gun either for hunting or for snipers in the Civil War. These sunglasses had amber lenses to reduce haze over long distances and frosting added in the outer band with a clear interior to serve as a viewfinder when shooting.
Since sunglasses were relatively rare in the 19th century compared with their popularity just a few decades into the 20th, vintage sunglass frames tended be an exact match for antique eyeglasses, but with colored glass lenses instead of clear ones. Some of the most popular frame styles that you will find at Eyeglasses Warehouse include:
- Round Lense Sunglasses – Popular in the later half of the 1800s, Windsor glasses and or vintage round glasses have a simple saddle bridge and cable temples that will keep them on effectively even when the wearer is moving around.
- Vintage Gold Rimmed Sunglasses – Gold was the most frequently used material for antique sunglasses, which are generally gold filled and made by layering several thin sheets of gold until the desired wire gauge is reached.
- Metal Rim Sunglasses – Other metals that offered durable wire rim sunglass frames at a lesser cost included nickel, steel, and German silver.
- Antique Rectangular Sunglasses – Rectangle frames were one of the shapes unique to the second half of the 1800s and is one of those often seen in films and televisions depicting the time.
- Civil War Straight Temple Sunglasses – Predominately used as sharpshooter glasses, straight temple glasses from the mid 1800s have temples without any curvature.
- Pince Nez Sunglasses – Pince nez became popular in the 1890s into the early 1900s and many people, women especially, kept a pair as sunglasses. These frames have no temple, but stay on by gently pinching the bridge of the nose.
Lens color options for a pair of antique sunglasses are largely the same as those available today, making it easy to turn any of the frames on our website into sunglasses with your choice of color.
Amber was particularly popular for medical purposes and outdoor sports like shooting. For those with sensitive eyes, gray was a typical color with the ability to dim sunlight. Blue and green were also possible options to protect the eyes, reduce glare, and correct vision problems.
Antique sunglasses from Eyeglasses Warehouse are the perfect addition to any costume for Victorian or Civil War reenacting and stage or screen productions where they will provide unbeatable authenticity. Wire frame sunglasses can also make a one of a kind accessory that is still functional as a pair of sunglasses for daily wear.
Our vintage sunglasses come in an array of sizes, shapes, and materials, and we encourage you both to look at what we have available today and check back often for the first chance at your next antique pair of sunglasses.