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Which Vintage Sunglass Brands are the Best? 

When looking at vintage sunglasses, there are hundreds of different types available, from unbranded mass market sunglasses to the highly collectible designer brands of the second half of the 20th century. The truth is that any optical quality glasses frame, like those you will find in our inventory at Eyeglasses Warehouse, can be made into a pair of sunglasses.

But if you are looking for a pair of genuine vintage sunglasses from a well known brand, these are the ones that have made history with their unique designs, celebrity associations, and enduring quality.

Leading Vintage Sunglasses Brands 

Sunglasses first appeared in the 1950s, and the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s are often considered the height of sunglass design with an extensive variety of vintage sunglasses ranging from sleek and classic to avant garde and innovative.

Collectible vintage sunglasses that are most in demand today include:

  • Vintage Christian Dior Sunglasses – Dior was the first designer to design glasses, including vintage sunglasses. The designer vintage sunglasses were manufactured and sold by Tura Eyewear, featuring styles that went with fashion-forward looks and often had extensive ornamentation.
  • Vintage Ray-Ban Sunglasses – Bausch & Lomb originally designed Ray-Ban sunglasses for military pilots before they became a popular vintage men’s sunglass style. Top Ray-Ban models are vintage Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, vintage Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and vintage Ray-Ban Clubmasters.
  • Shuron Sunglasses – Shuron’s leading sunglasses were the Ronsirs, a browline sunglasses style that had dark frames  and was usually worn with dark lenses.
  • Genuine Universal Optical Sunglasses – Universal Optical created the Mansfield Square F770 vintage sunglasses that James Dean was famous for wearing. Vintage James Dean sunglasses nead black frames and nearly black lenses to complete the look.
  • Retro Cazal Sunglasses – Emerging into the world of sunglasses in the 1980s, Cazal created innovative styles that came to define fashion in the hip hop industry. 
  • Vintage Versace Sunglasses – A prolific designer in the late 70s and early 80s, Versace also designed many extravagant vintage sunglasses.

With the extensive range of vintage high quality sunglasses available today, it is possible to find a variety of glasses that will work with any style. You can also create an entirely unique pair when you choose vintage glasses frames in any style from Eyeglasses Warehouse and have your optician replace the lenses with your preferred color. 

Every pair of antique glasses and vintage frames for sale online at Eyeglasses Warehouse is suitable for a pair of vintage sunglasses while also providing you a one of a kind look. See all the different frame styles we have available from the different eras on our website and choose the style that will make your perfect pair of vintage sunglasses.

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Tura Cat Eye Glasses: The All-in-One Accessory for Women

In the first years of the 1950s, vintage women’s cat eye glasses were no longer simply a way to improve vision and protect the wearer’s eyes from sunlight. Eye glasses were now an accessory as well. Many women owned pairs in different colors and with different ornamentation so they could match their glasses to different outfits.

Eyewear company Tura encouraged this as their main strategy for selling their eyeglasses. Offering colors like turquoise and coral that they chose specifically to match the colors that would be at the height of fashion in the upcoming season. But in 1959, Tura took their glasses to fashion extremes with the introduction of the Turanette. Today, the Turaneete remains one of the more exciting and innovative ideas in eyewear, even if it did not persist much past the 1950s.

Tura Reinvents Vintage Glasses as Fashion Statements

Tura was a high end eyewear company. Established in the 1930s, they were a leading name in eyewear by the 1950s with careful construction, pricey materials, and a range of options. Their cat eye frames, generally made in aluminum, came in a range of different colors, which they marketed as “Vogue approved. ” Their ColorTura kit contained colors like orchid gold, mink brown, cherry red, and simulated pearl.

An important part of cat eye glasses has always been the decorative elements. Tura delivered with gold dot, silver filigree, hand engraving, ornamental roses, and jewel studding. Many of these different decorative elements were crafted with real gold and real diamonds, enabling a woman to choose and wear her Tura eyewear in the same manner which she would wear a new necklace or earrings.

Tura Designs a Completely New Style

With this foundation of design, Tura went a step further with glasses as jewelry and created the Turanette. These unique glasses use the standard decorative cat eye frames. To one temple, they added a decorative piece that angled upwards towards the top of the head. This formed a hairpiece that could also help hold a hairstyle in place.

Some of the common designs for this ornamental piece included:

  • Gold filigree with white pearl flowers.
  • Delicate gold leaves.
  • Silver vines studded with rhinestones.

The idea was to create a jewelry-like element that would carry the design from a woman’s glasses into her hair similar to the look of a tiara. In fact, the princess appearance was one of the ways that Tura marketed these glasses to women, branding them with names like “Cinderella.”

What is perhaps more interesting is the way Tura marketed their vintage cat eye frames to opthamologists who would then sell them to their patients. Advertising asserted that it is “a woman’s nature to change the things she wears” and that women indefinitely had “a craving for a new style.” 

This was the strategy Tura had been using since the founding of the company as they took care to always provide the latest styles and, more often than not, set the course for vintage eyewear for men and women.

Tura claimed that glasses design should not be ageless and glasses must never be thought of as devices. Instead, glasses, at least for women, must beautify and flatter and differ significantly from previous designs so women would see the purpose of purchasing new pairs even if the ones they had were already serviceable. 

This, along with Tura’s focus on making eyewear comparable to fine jewelry, played a large part in helping transform the way women perceived their glasses, switching to a standard where women owned several pairs of glasses and even more pairs of sunglasses with a pair to fit every outfit, mood, or occasion. 

As Tura’s advertising suggested, the Turanette could not stay around for long and had to be efficiently replaced with new and different styles. In 1966, Tura partnered with designer Christian Dior to create the next fashion in women’s eyewear – vintage designer glasses that came with matching brooches, earrings, and necklaces.

The short production timeline of the Turaneete makes this particular vintage frame style exceedingly rare. Although Tura reported that women wanted only new styles, the uniqueness of the Turanette puts them in high demand and a Turanette is a fantastic addition to any collection of vintage women’s eyewear if you can find one.

For those who appreciate the style and quality of vintage Tura glasses, Eyeglasses Warehouse has many different styles of cat eye and other vintage losses. Find your own pair of Tura cat eyeglasses in our inventory with the color and embellishments to perfectly match your style and outfit.

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Vintage Eyewear versus Retro Glasses: What’s the Difference?

If you have been searching for eyeglass frames with vintage style, some of the first terms you will come across are “vintage eyewear” and “retro eyewear.” Understanding these different terms can help you be sure you are getting the right style of eyeglass frames. 

In general, vintage eyewear and antique eyewear are authentic frames originally made when that frame style was popular. As a result, frames that are usually considered date from around the 1980s to any years prior. Many of these glasses, even those first made in the 1800s, are still used as wearable frames, although more delicate ones may be simply antiques for display. 

Retro glasses are modern glasses that manufacturers make to imitate vintage styles. They have all the look of historic eyewear, but use contemporary manufacturing methods and materials. 

The advantages to the two different kinds of vintage style glasses can help you determine which one is best for your needs. 

Differences Between Vintage Glasses and Retro Glasses

The differences in materials, production methods, and design can have certain advantages that may make one pair better than the other when it comes to eyeglasses you intend to wear daily, use in theater or on screen, add to a costume, or display. These are some of the main differences to know”

  • Glasses Material – Companies make retro glasses with the latest materials. This offers some benefits in terms of comfort and durability since many modern materials are lighter and often stronger as well, especially when you consider that a pair of early plastic glasses has existed for several decades already, causing the material to weaken. New materials will not necessarily have that authentic look and feel, however, which can make true vintage glasses the better choice as long as you can handle them gently. 
  • Fit – The average head size has increased over the past decades, so vintage glasses tend to be smaller. Antique glasses from the 1800s also use a smaller frame width that can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for today’s glasses wearers. Retro glasses keep the look of older glasses, but are made to fit the modern face. They are also often produced in a range of sizes to make it easier to find a pair that fits you. However with any glasses, modern or vintage, you should always pay careful attention to the sizing and measure your own face for the best fit. 
  • Cost – Like many antique versus modern products, authentic glasses will tend to have a slightly higher price tag than retro glasses. The manufacturing process for these glasses was more painstaking and the current rarity adds to this cost. Many retro glasses, which can be more quickly manufactured on demand, will often be cheaper, although the overall price of either pair does depend on the quality. It is possible to find retro glasses today that go for much more than original antiques. Many vintage eyeglass frames are also affordable simply because there were so many produced at that time.
  • Condition – Retro glasses will be guaranteed new and unworn. This means they will also be free of scratches, cracks, or wearing on the frames. Vintage frames may be unused, in which case they are often referred to as “new old stock” or NOS. Opticians purchased these from glasses makers, but never sold them to customers. Other vintage glasses may be worn and have signs. Some people like these small defects as signs of the glasses’ history, while others want a pristine pair.

One similarity, in addition to styles often being the same, is that you can use both vintage and retro glasses with your prescription lenses or sunglasses. An optician can switch out the lenses on either pair, so long as the vintage glasses are not too fragile and have the necessary screws, to make both suitable for wearing.

When considering which type of glasses you would like to purchase, it can be useful to consider how you will be using the glasses. For a cherished accessory, authentic vintage glasses are often a nice touch since you get to wear a bit of history along with stylish rims. On screen and on stage, retro glasses may be a better option to withstand any rough treatment.

In reenacting or when wearing your glasses as part of a costume, antique glasses can maintain the authenticity of your outfit and help you get more into your persona, or retro glasses might be better if you engage in more active roleplay, such as live military reenactments.

At Eyeglasses Warehouse, we make it possible to find the right pair of both retro spectacles and vintage frames. We have a large selection of antique and vintage spectacles to help you find a pair in your size, price range, and desired look. We also offer our own line of retro glasses in many of the most popular vintage styles, all produced with high quality materials and construction techniques for a pair of frames that looks great and will last for years. Check our our inventory of vintage and retro glasses today.

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The Lorgnette and How It Became the First Fashionable Eyewear for Women 

Although antique glasses have been around since the 13th century, they were predominantly reserved for men in the earliest years. Few women could read at that time, and there was little need to have vision correction. Glasses were also extremely expensive in those early years, further limiting their use to the wealthy and those who especially needed them.

The rarity of glasses contributed to them being seen as extremely fashionable for women, and even as their use became more widespread in the 18th century, women tried to avoid them in public.

This changed with the lorgnette. First introduced in the late 1700s, the early lorgnette was simply two magnifying lenses secured in a frame, maybe with a handle. When the reader wanted a closer look at something, they would hold the lorgnette up to their eyes. Although used by both men and women throughout its history, lorgnettes quickly became a popular accessory for women, in part because of their scandalous connotations, before their combination of fashion and function revolutionized the world of women’s eyewear.

Controversial History of the Early Lorgnette

Because the lorgnette used only magnifying glass and could not provide any customized vision correction since there was no way to set the pupillary distance, it could never suffice as a pair of spectacles and was destined from the beginning to take on the role of a fashion accessory. 

The name in French approximates to “to look at furtively” or “to ogle,” and this was likely the start of the lorgnette’s more scandalous early history, as was the fact that the lorgnette quickly became an accessory associated with women. 

Women in the 1700s embraced the lorgnette as it gave them some improved vision when reading, a necessity now that many upper class women were now literate, without the need to wear unattractive spectacles. But the lorgnette  also quickly became a means on which to observe companions, competitors, and potential spouses at parties and the theater.

Early innovations with the lorgnette made this vintage eyewear particularly suited for spying purposes. The early jealousy lorgnette, for instance, had a mirror on the inside of the lens to enable the wearer to look behind her without turning their head. In reality, this was a social necessity. Turning to look at a newcomer in a room could be considered rude. But the mirror cemented the lorgnette’s reputation as a tool for spying surreptitiously.

Next came the fan lorgnette, potentially invented by Marie Antoinette, in which the lorgnette lens was embedded into a spoke of a fan. This enabled the lady to minimize the accessories she needed to carry, but also to spy more discreetly from behind her fan. Accusations abounded, likely not all untruthful, that women were using lorgnettes and fans to flirt endlessly, and that they had started putting lorgnettes into all manner of clothing, including the eyelets in lace. 

The controversy had the effect of pushing lorgnettes into even greater popularity and making them the height of fashion for wealthy and middle class young women.

Transition from Controversy into Fashion Accessory

Suspicions about lorgnettes and their use in spying and flirting eventually died down as they became commonplace and their wearers expanded to include women of all ages. 

By the early 1800s, fan lorgnettes had gone away, but there was now the option for lorgnettes with jointed handles. Some had lenses that would fold together and slide into the handle for easy storage.  At this point, women would wear them on a chain attached to a brooch or around their neck to keep the lorgnette readily available. 

Vintage frames and handles were crafted from several different materials and often artistically decorated with a combination of:

  • Horn
  • Tortoise Shell
  • Ivory
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Mother of Pearl Inlays 

Although significantly different from vintage spectacles meant for vision correction, the early lorgnettes offered the first opportunity for women to have attractive eyewear and cemented vintage eyewear’s possibility as a fashion statement.

Lorgnettes were eventually replaced by opera glasses by the end of the 1800s and relegated to use solely in the theater. Meanwhile, the pince nez, which had a very similar look but could be used for vision correction, became a popular eyewear style for women. Then later eyeglass frames in the early 1900s began to become fashionably acceptable for women to wear. 

But it was not until the 1940s when glasses manufacturers once again made eyewear into an accessory with vintage cat eye glasses, making them with all different materials, colors, and decoration that glasses would become as popular for women as the lorgnette.

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Dating a Pair of Vintage Eyeglass Frames

If you have found or recently purchased a pair of vintage eyeglass frames, determining when they were first made can be an interesting exercise. It provides useful information about their history and the value of your antique glasses as well. Dating glasses can also help you prove authenticity between a pair of retro glasses and authentic antique spectacles. 

Fortunately, many changes in glasses design makes it possible to pinpoint the manufacturing dates on glasses to at least within two decades, if not within an even more narrow time period. These are the different features on eyewear that you use to help pinpoint the age of a pair of frames.

What to Look for When Determining the Age of Your Antique Spectacles?

The first place to look for clues about age is on the temples and rims of glasses frames. From the late 1800s onwards, many manufacturers stamped information about the glasses into the metal, horn, or plastic to record the maker’s name, materials the glasses are made out of, and temple measurements. 

These marks are often small, so you will likely need a magnifying glass to clearly read them, but they can provide a source of valuable data information. For instance, if you find a maker’s mark, you can narrow down production time to when that optical company was in business. For gold frames, marks will list the gold content, whether 10K, 12K, or 14K. A significant part of the value of gold wire rimmed frames will come from the gold content rather than the age of the glasses themselves.

If marks are illegible, have been rubbed off, or did not contain the all the information you need these are some of the features you want next examine to help you date your glasses:

  • Style – Style can be the clearest indication of the earliest possible date for your glasses, although it is important to remember that styles have come back into fashion throughout the years and you may find reproduction glasses of many popular styles. But in general, sliding temple glasses or straight temple glasses will be from the 1800s. Pince nez often date to between the 1890s and 1920s. Rimless glasses were produced from 1900 onward. Horn rim glasses were in style from 1920 and later, cat eye glasses from the 1940s onward, and browline glasses from the 1950s onward. 
  • Plastic Rims – Manufacturers first began using plastic for glasses in the 1930s, but only sparingly. These early plastic glasses from the 30s and 40s were also very fragile so few remained today. Rims that were made of plastic will generally be from the 1950 or later years. 
  • Size of the Lenses – Lens size and placement has changed since the earliest glasses. In the 1800s, lenses were generally small and sat within the eye socket. After the 1900s, they became larger and moved to sit further away from the face. Checking how your glasses fit on your face can help you determine the age.
  • Temple Style – If the temple does not have a curvature in it, and is either a straight or sliding temple, it is almost certainly from the 1800s since these styles  had almost completely disappeared by the 1890s. Temples with an extreme curve that wraps around the ear, called either riding bow temples or cable temples, were widely available from the 1880s up until the 1940s, although they did go later on vintage military glasses. Skull temples that have a slight curve started to be more widely used in the 1930s and later. 
  • Lens Shape – The most popular lens shapes have changed from decade to decade. Prior to the 1900s, lenses were often rectangular or oval shaped. In the 1900s, ovoid, or egg shape, became popular as did the hexagon. Moving further into the 19th century, the cat eye shape was popular.
  • Nose Pads – Nose pads were not invented until the 1920s. If your metal rimmed glasses have nose pads, they were made in the 1920s or later.
  • Temple Placement – The idea to move temples to the top corner of the lenses rather than the middle did not occur until the mid 1920s with Ful Vue glasses. While some vintage glasses were still made with temples as the midpoint, this feature is a good way to distinguish pre and post 1920s glasses.

Another good way to determine the age of your glasses is to check out some of our many resources here at Eyeglasses Warehouse such as our guide to different nose bridge styles throughout the years and glasses from the World War I and World War II eras. 

For a more in depth overview of the different features you might see on a pair of vintage glasses from different time periods, you can also browse through our inventory of antique spectacles and vintage frames from the 1800s and 1900s to see styles that may look similar to your own pair.

Our wide collection of antique eyeglass frames is also the best place to buy vintage glasses online if you are searching for a pair of spectacles from a specific era.

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Finding Vintage Glasses for Your Steampunk Costume

An authentic pair of Victorian era glasses is the perfect way to complete your steampunk costume. Choosing an antique pair of eyeglass frames gives your costume a special touch and lets you take advantage of frame styles that are not available today. Vintage glasses are also often higher quality and longer lasting (most are already more than 100 years old, after all) than costume glasses. These are some of our favorite 1800s eyewear styles for steampunk costumes.

19th Century Frame Styles for Steampunk 

Those who wore spectacles in the 1800s had several different options for eyeglass styles, making it possible to find out the right pair of eyeglasses to fit your persona. Many glasses in the 1800s were made of gold or steel for a silver appearance and the wire rim look fits nicely with the steampunk look. 

Specific frame styles to consider include:

  • Civil War Era Glasses – These wire rimmed spectacles have the option for either straight temples or sliding temples. They have significantly smaller lenses than modern eyewear, which gives them a more vintage look. Straight shooter spectacles from this time period had tinted lenses surrounding a small untinted circle in the middle to help the wearer better aim when shooting, which would be interesting for a steampunk cosplay.
  • Hexagon Wire Rimmed Glasses – Although a little late for the Victorian era, the unique look of glasses with hexagon-shaped lenses make them an exciting choice and the wire rims work for a steampunk costume.
  • Windsor Frames – Windsor glasses have wire rims and circular lenses and riding bow temples. Vintage round glasses in gold or silver are a functional accessory.
  • Pince Nez – The spectacles clip onto the end of the nose and do not have temples. They are small frames that have a vintage look and are a fun conversation-starting accessory that go well with any intellectual steampunk persona.
  • Vintage Goggles – Antique goggles from companies like Willson are the essential steampunk item. These goggles use protective metal rims and cable temples to help keep them secure. Although more rare than other vintage eyewear styles, these goggles remain one of the top choices for an authentic steampunk costume. 

At Eyeglasses Warehouse, we sell a wide range of antique eyeglasses from the 19th century and early 20th century. These make a unique accessory or switch them out with your prescription lenses for wearable antique glasses. Browse our selection of antique glasses today and check back often for more unique steampunk eyewear.

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The Unlikely Popularity of the Pince Nez

The pince nez was the dominant style of antique glasses frames. Now, you may recognize the pince nez from photos of figures such as Teddy Roosevelt. More recently, their appearance is largely limited to film and television shows where they are worn by characters like Morpheus in The Matrix and Hercule Poirot in the latest television series.

As the name implies, pince nez (pronounced like “pance nay”) translates to “pinch nose,” which describes how these glasses stay on the wearer’s face. Using a spring, the glasses gently pinch a person’s nose, staying in place with tension rather than through the use of temples.

Each antique pince nez frame consisted of two lenses, which may or may not be rimless, held together by a bridge with the spring in it. Today these glasses evoke a very Victorian style, but there was a time when these glasses were disliked and almost made it through the entire 19th century unnoticed in American eyewear.

How the Civil War Brought Pince Nez Glasses to Popularity 

In the mid 1800s, glasses were still considered unfashionable, especially for women, and primarily worn out of necessity. Civil War era straight temple frames or sliding temple frames generally had very small lenses that sat close to the center of the face, both for stability and to minimize the look of the glasses by  making them as inconspicuous as possible.

But there was no hiding glasses altogether. The temples were still highly visible cutting across the cheekbones. Combined with the fact that glasses were expensive and also not comfortable, many people only wore glasses when absolutely necessary. 

These limited numbers of glasses wearers still proved a problem during the Civil War as fighting within America disrupted trade with Europe due to military treaties and naval blockades. This cut off much of America’s supply of materials needed to make antique spectacles.

Bausch and Lomb, already a notable eyewear company at the time and later known for such iconic glasses as Ray Bans, came up with the idea to bring the French pince nez style to America. The style was extremely unpopular at that time, but B&L got a number of factors right.

From a production standpoint, this was the ideal style. Without temples, it needed fewer materials, making it easier and more affordable to produce in spite of wartime shortages. Bausch and Lomb designed their pince nez out of vulcanized rubber to further help circumvent shortages with metal.

Pince nez glasses caught on almost instantly with wearers. Not only was the lack of temples more affordable to purchase, the vintage frames were also far less noticeable on a person’s face. The simple clip-on style made them easy to take off and put on when needed.

The Brief Height of Pince Nez Popularity

Other companies quickly joined in on selling pince nez glasses and by the 1890s, this style accounted for more than two-thirds of the eyeglasses sold in the United States. The popularity of pince nez eyeglasses reveals just how important style was over functionality when it came to vintage eyewear. 

Indeed, pince nez quickly developed a reputation for falling off the slightest movement. A violent motion of the head could be enough to dislodge them from the wearer’s nose. This prompted early pince nez wearers to attach their glasses to a chain secured by a brooch to avoid glasses falling and breaking when they slipped off.

The instability of pince nez spectacles may have been part of the early popularity. Since they are incompatible with movement and their delicate nature required care, they were most popular with the upper classes where having a pince nez on a chain was as much a status symbol as it was employed for reading.

The popularity of pince nez was intense, but short-lived. Their downfall began in the 1900s as younger generations became more active and classes shifted to bring about a more dominant middle class, causing the desire for pince nez as a status symbol to disappear. Myopia diagnoses also increased with improved medical technology which required doctors to prescribe more functional glasses styles.

The pince nez fell from popularity and eventually disappeared altogether by the 1930s. 

The Rise and Fall of Vintage Pince Nez Frames

From their origins to their massive popularity and the eventual disappearance, pince nez are one of the more iconic antique frame styles and an interesting addition to any antique eyewear collection. Because they were so popular, this also means that there are still many original antique pince nez available.

Here at Eyeglasses Warehouse, we have several 19th century pince-nez frames that we have carefully restored. Many of these frames are still wearable today, once replaced with your preferred lenses, for an especially new set of reading glasses or a one of a kind eyewear accessory. Look through our inventory to find the style you like.

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Picking the Right Antique Glasses for Your Reenactment

Reenactors can go to great lengths to get their clothing and kit period accurate. Whether you are part of a Civil War reenactment unit, a volunteer at a living history museum, or preparing for your next Victorian Christmas ball, you probably have all of the right outfits and accessories.

This includes your eyewear. Glasses styles and materials have evolved over the years, and modern glasses can immediately ruin the illusion of your reenactment costume. When you are trading out your eyeglasses for vintage spectacles or you want to add a new accessory to your outfit, choosing frames from the right era can complete your character.

Glasses by Historical Period

If you are dressing up for a reenactment or putting on a historical costume for a party, these are some of the basic glasses styles throughout history:

  • Gold Rush and Pioneer Glasses – Throughout the 1800s, almost all glasses were wire frames, usually silver, gold, brass, or steel. The lenses were either rectangular, round, or oval, and usually far smaller than today’s lenses. For temple designs, consider straight temple or sliding temple glasses for a truly authentic look.
  • Civil War Glasses – Glasses for Civil War reenactors can be almost any style popular in the 1800s. Gold wire rimmed glasses and other wire rim frames will look perfect with your uniform. Another special option for the Civil War era is sharpshooter glasses. Using a straight temple frame, sharpshooter glasses use an amber lens that is frosted around the outside, potentially used to help soldiers aim better.
  • Victorian Era Glasses – Wire frame glasses with steel, gold, or brass are ideal for anyone dressing for the Victorian era. In addition to round and rectangular glasses, ovoid – or egg shaped – glasses also came into style in the later half of the 1800s. For an upper class option, you can also opt for a pince nez.
  • Early 1900s Glasses – If you are reenacting the early 900s or Titanic era, the largest change in glasses styles at the turn of the century was an increase in lens size. The front width of glasses grew to be the width of the face and many people started wearing cable temple glasses with arms that curved around the ears. Glasses could have wire rims or be rimless. Pince nez remained in style for older, wealthier women.
  • 1920s Glasses – Along with other changing fashion styles in the Jazz Age, you will also need a pair of fashion forward glasses. You have all of the options from earlier decades – wire rims or rimless, cable temples, and round or ovoid frames. In addition, new options in the Roaring 20s included horn rimmed glasses, octagonal lenses, Marshwood glasses nose pads, and Ful-Vue glasses with the temples connected at the top corner of the lenses.
  • WWII Glasses – The army ordered glasses en masse for soldiers. Wire rimmed aviators were a popular style for pilots and made popular by military heroes like General MacArthur, while GI glasses often used a P3 frame with cable temples. The GI glasses could have frames made of nickel or cellulose acetate.
  • 1950s Glasses – There was a boom in glasses styles during the 1950s. If you have a retro party, consider cat eye glasses for women and either horn rimmed or browline glasses for men. Aviators were popular in the second half of the decade and beyond, and wire frame glasses remain an option, especially for older adults.

For glasses from any era, you can find reproduction frames, but the better option is to find authentic, antique spectacles from Eyeglasses Warehouse. They are completely accurate in terms of design and materials, and many antique frames come with their own story that adds extra interest to your costume. Find eyeglasses for your next costume at Eyeglasses Warehouse.

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The Interesting Origins of Coin Silver in Antique Spectacles

If you collect or wear antique glasses from the 1800s, you will find glasses available in several different metals. Gold is the most common, followed by various types of steel and German silver (which is not actually silver) that had a silver-toned appearance.

But there were several pairs of antique glasses made from silver in the 19th century. They were still an alloy – pure silver is too malleable to stand up to regular wear as eyeglass frames – but had a high enough silver content to be classified as silver. Knowing more about the various types of silver used in antique glasses will give you a better understanding of their value and history.

Types of Silver for Eyeglasses

Silver-toned glasses were exceedingly popular in the 1800s, and many of the antique glasses you can find today have a silver appearance. To create this look, glasses makers may have used one of the following materials:

  • Sterling Silver – Named for the Pound Sterling used as British currency, this is the standard for most silver used in jewelry, silverware, and other silver items. It is 92.5% silver. Considered luxurious, Sterling silver would have been rare in eyeglasses, but ideal for pince nez or opera glasses.
  • German Silver – German silver was an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc. It was affordable to make and looked almost the same as silver, but did not bend or tarnish as easily as Sterling silver would.
  • Common Steel – Steel is made by adding carbon to iron, creating a shiny silver material that is far stronger than silver and much more affordable. This was a popular material for many silver-looking eyeglasses in the Civil War era.

The other option for silver glasses was coin silver. Throughout history, many cultures used coins made of silver or a silver alloy. When a person had more coins than they needed, it was common practice to take the coins to a silversmith who could melt them down and remake them as vases, silverware, and other objects of value. The objects could be turned back into coins if necessary, and in the meantime providing a useful object that displayed the owner’s wealth.

Coin silver in America was slightly different. Because the U.S. did not have its own source of silver until the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1859, all silver had to be imported at a high cost. Silver coins, therefore, were made of 90% silver and 10% copper to minimize silver usage.

Silver was also not affordably available for silversmiths, or glasses makers who wanted silver frames. The better option for these craftsmen was to buy silver coins or other items made of coin silver and melt them down to produce the raw materials needed to make glasses frames.

By the time Sterling silver became a possibility for American silversmiths and glasses manufacturers, steel and aluminum had already supplanted silver for use in glasses. The materials were cheaper to produce, more durable, and a preferred choice for glasses wearers.

The type of silver or silver look-alike alloy in a pair of antique spectacles will play a role in the value of the glasses, as well as their longevity. Silver is luxurious, but steel and aluminum are resistant to tarnishing and will not bend as easily.

If you are searching for the perfect pair of silver frame glasses from the 1800s, Eyeglasses Warehouse has a wide selection of Civil War era glasses and wire rim glasses in silver tones to help find the right pair of antique spectacles.

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Understanding the Different Conditions of Vintage Glasses

As you look for vintage glasses online, you are likely to come across a few different terms used to describe their condition such as “new old stock” and “deadstock.” You may also wonder what more familiar terms like “excellent,” “good,” and “fair” mean when it comes to classes.

Although there will be some variations between sellers, this outlines approximately what you can expect from the quality of your vintage glasses. It is also important to understand when you want a pair of glasses that are attractive and sturdy enough for everyday wear and when you want to make sure you are paying a fair price.

Vintage Eyeglass Conditions

Quality guidelines are general categories for vintage clothing and accessories like eyeglasses. Those in standard usage include:

  • New Old Stock – Also called “NOS” or “deadstock,” these glasses have never been worn. They may have been leftover pairs from opticians that were never sold, or be a second pair that the owner never wore.
  • Excellent – Many wire and even plastic frame vintage glasses used high quality materials that have survived in nearly like new condition until today. This is particularly true when the glasses were only worn rarely or for a short time.
  • Good – Glasses that were regularly worn may show some signs of wear, discoloration, or have some scratching on the frames. This usually does not affect their wearability, but instead shows off their history.
  • Fair – Some vintage glasses are no longer wearable, but they can still be fascinating to look at and collect. These glasses may be bent, missing hardware, or have cracked frames.

New old stock glasses will not necessarily be in the same perfect condition as a pair of modern glasses you might buy today. Many of these vintage glasses are over 50 years old. Even if they sat untouched in a box all that time, the plastic frames may still have shrunk, warped, or changed color because of age or storage conditions.

Some deadstock vintage glasses may not have been sold because they have a small flaw. Usually, this is something that would have been a problem for a buyer at the time, but might be worth it today to get the right pair of antique glasses. A small flaw can also add character.

If you are buying vintage eyeglasses online, you should also pay attention to any description of the individual item. This can often be more revealing than a general condition since it will often describe specific problems.

Buying vintage glasses in good condition also requires purchasing from a trusted seller. Eyeglasses Warehouse is the leading online retailer of vintage glasses. Each of our glasses frames is carefully selected before our team cleans and restores them to the best possible condition to make them ready for you to wear.