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About 1940s Glasses

At EyeglassesWarehouse.com we have a large selection of 1940s glasses. During the 1940’s there were a few kinds of vintage eyeglasses that were popular. There were wire rimmed glasses in both gold and silver. There were rimless vintage glasses in gold and silver. The 1940s was also the beginning of the era of cat eye glasses which was expanded upon later in the 1950s and 1960s.

Many vintage 1940s eyeglass frames are fulvue glasses, which means the frames meet the temples in the corner and not in the center as had been common until then. 1940s Men’s glasses were pretty similar to 1940s female glasses in style and type, with the difference in etched design patterns being one of the only things differentiating these vintage frames.

We have a large selection of 1940s Men’s glasses as well as 1940s glasses for Women. Whether you are looking for 1940’s glasses WW2 era glasses, or fulvue glasses, we are sure to have something to meet your needs.

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About Wire Rim Glasses

One of the earliest styles of eyeglass frames was wire-rim glasses.

Long before the use of plastic, zyl, tortoiseshell or any other material in antique eyeglasses, there were silver or gold wire-rim glasses frames. Originally made of very thin stainless steel or gold-filled, wire-rimmed glasses didn’t have modern temple manufacturing methods, rather they stayed on the face with cable temples, wrapping all the way around the ears.

Wire rim eyeglass frames generally had a saddle bridge, as nose pads hadn’t yet been invented. This was a nose bridge style where the frames sat directly on the nose without any pads. This resulted in the wireframe glasses sitting close to the face and being very narrow overall. Later on, mother of pearl nose pads were invented, enabling these wire-rim glasses to sit further away from the face and having a wider frame width.

Wire Rim Glasses At EyeglassesWarehouse.com

At Eyeglasseswarehouse.com we have a large selection of all types of vintage wire rim eyeglasses including wire-rimmed reading glasses, gold wire rim glasses and round wire rim glasses frames. from 1880s glasses to 1940s glasses. We also have a selection of modern vintage inspired wire rimmed frames.

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About Windsor Glasses

Windsor Glasses are a style of popular round vintage frames. The Windsor style of eyeglasses was introduced in 1880 and remained popular until after the First World War. Characteristics of windsor frames are: round lenses, a nose saddle (no nose pads), and temples that loop behind the ear. These round vintage glasses came in silver, roman steel, gold filled, white gold filled, and nickel. Often, the lenses and sometimes the temples were covered with Zylo (celluloid). Common Zylo colors are black, brown, blond, and tortoiseshell.

John Lennon Glasses

This style frame was worn by John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, Groucho Marx, Theodore Roosevelt, William Hurt, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin, and of late by David Letterman, and Whoppie Goldberg.

Sometimes referred to as John Lennon Glasses, as he often wore round windsor style eyeglasses. Windsor’s aren’t the only style of John Lennon’s Glasses, he often wore Marshwood and various types of vintage sunglasses. We have a large selection of all different types of John Lennon Frames.

Vintage Round Glasses

Windsor eyeglass frames are one of the more popular styles of vintage round glasses. There were many other styles of round vintage glasses, such as tortoiseshell glasses, pince nez glasses, marshwood and others.

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About Pince Nez

Pince Nez are a style of antique eyeglasses that stay on the face by clipping onto the nose rather than with standard eyeglass temples.

There were many types of pince-nez manufactured in the 19th & Early 20th Century, but generally speaking, there were two designs: the spring bridge pince-nez and the hard bridge pince-nez. Generally, it is easier to adjust the spring bridge pince-nez type for fit. The spring can be bent in or out to increase or lessen the bridge width.

The hard bridge pince-nez type is preset at the factory. Generally, such frames have very little adjustment. When ordering, you must know your bridge width to get a proper fit. Your optician can provide this information.

Pince Nez Sunglasses & Pince-Nez Reading Glasses

Many people today purchase pince-nez to be used as pince nez reading glasses or pince nez sunglasses.

Factory set bridge width varies between 14 and 26 mm. Generally, 14 to 16 is considered very narrow. Sizes 18 to 22 are the most common. Sizes 24 and 26 are considered wide.

Frames without metal rims offer more opportunities for today’s needs. The new lens can be cut wider. The area below the pupil can be dropped down to make room for bifocal or progressive lenses. Frames that originally held round lenses can be adapted easily to hold an oval lens and vice versa.

Wire rimmed frames work best with a single prescription, either reading or distance.

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Eyeglasses Popular in the Civil War

The Civil War spanned 1861 to 1865, although historians often consider the Civil War era as spanning from the mid-1840s to the mid 1870s. In terms of eyeglass styles, there were few changes from earlier decades, and many frame styles that had been introduced in the 1830s remained popular. Eyeglasses were primarily about function at this time, and contemporary designs made glasses as inconspicuous as possible.

Authentic Civil War era glasses are a unique addition to a collection for history buffs. They also make ideal Civil War reenactor glasses or prop pieces by providing a historical element to your kit whether you choose an antique pair or a recreation of an original style.

Civil War Eyeglass Frame Styles

Eyeglass frames for during the Civil War were largely similar for men and women. The frames used a narrow guage wire, often of gold, silver, brass, or steel. Tortoise shell was also an option for frames. Oval lenses were the predominant shape, but octagonal glasses were common as well.

Perhaps what is most notable about eyeglasses from the Civil War era was their size. Glasses were approximately ⅔ the overall width of the wearer’s face with much smaller lenses than modern glasses due to the more limited technology for grinding lenses. Larger lenses were impossible at the time.

There were three main types of eyeglasses available during the Civil War. These were:

  • Straight Temple Eyeglasses – These glasses have a temple style that is straight with no curvature around the ear. This frame was primarily used for reading or seated tasks as the straight temple meant they would fall off during any activity. Those who needed to wear them while moving would tie them around their heads with a cord. Because of their limitations, many straight temple glasses were melted down, making them a rare find today.
  • Sliding Temple Eyeglasses – First introduced at the end of the 18th century, the temple pieces on these glasses could retract to fit in the case. When worn, they were not as likely to fall off as straight temple glasses as the wearer moved about. This made them the most popular style amongst the general public during the Civil War era, although they were still unsuitable for vigorous activity like horseback riding.
  • Sharpshooter Glasses – Also known as shooting lenses, these glasses used a frosted, amber colored lens with a smaller unfrosted circle in the center of each lens. The amber tinting provides better contrast against a blue sky and, like other colored lenses, was said to have health benefits. It was suspected that sharpshooter glasses were used by Civil War snipers and recreational hunters, but military historians have cast doubt on this theory and suggested these were merely sunglasses.

Eyeglasses Warehouse provides a range of Civil War eyeglasses in various styles and materials. These glasses have a classic style that makes them popular for recreational use, and can also be used for reenactors, films and plays, and collectors. We have both men’s and women’s Civil War eyeglasses available. See the glasses we have available on our website and check back frequently as our inventory changes and we bring in new styles.

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Types of Eyeglass Styles Popular in the 1950s

Although designer styles like the pince-nez glasses saw popularity in the Victorian era, the 1950s was one of the first decades in which eyeglasses transcended their purely functional use to become a fashion accessory. Innovative shapes, bright colors, glitter and jewels, and bold looks were the new standard for eyeglass frames. Women now had a range of options to match their outfits, but men were not limited either.

There were many reasons glasses became the fashion standard they did in the 1950s. New plastic materials meant designers could leave behind the plain silver or gold frames of the past. Film and television were on the rise, depicting both celebrities and fictional characters in stylish glasses that designers rushed to produce and viewers quickly embraced.

1950s Eyeglass Frame Styles

The 1950s had a range of popular glasses styles. Some, like cat eye and horn rimmed glasses built on popularity from earlier decades, but reached a peak in the 1950s. The main eyeglass frame types from this period are:

  • Cat Eye Glasses – These frames are rounded at the bottoms and sweep up at the corners. During the 1950s, the frames were narrow and at their most pointed. Colorful plastics, glitter, pearl inlays, and carved flowers became more popular as the decade progressed. Marilyn Monroe made cat eye glasses one of the most in demand women’s eyeglass styles after her characters wore them in movies.
  • Horn Rimmed Glasses – Originally made out of animal horn, horn rimmed glasses experienced a resurgence in the 1950s with plastic frames. Horn rimmed glasses have frames that encircle the lens and are thicker than wire frames. They were primarily men’s glasses in the 1950s so black, brown, and tortoiseshell were the most common colors.
  • Browline Glasses – Another men’s style, browline glasses have a top portion made of plastic. The remainder of the frames uses thin wire. The plastic tops imitate brows or draw attention to the browline. Men’s browline glasses usually had black or brown plastic and silver or gold wires, although Malcolm X was known for wearing browline glasses in many colors. Browline glasses could also be made for women in the cat eye style.
  • Wayfarers – Ray-Ban released their first pair of Wayfarers in 1952, which were soon popularized in 1955 when James Dean wore them in Rebel Without a Cause. The original Wayfarer glasses had thick plastic frames and smaller lenses for a masculine look.

Throughout the following decades, 1950s glasses have gone in and out of popularity. Horn rimmed glasses have endured as a favorite style for eyeglasses while others have come back into the mainstream for their retro appeal.

While many glasses manufacturers have introduced modern frames that mimic the 1950s look, few can capture the vintage appeal of the original 1950s glasses. If you are looking for authentic cat eye glasses, browline glasses, or horn rimmed glasses, check out our inventory here on our website.

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When were the first eyeglasses used in history?

History is full of impressive moments of discovery, creativity, and development. Such developments have come from specific regions, yet slowly but surely became a key part of wider civilisation. One common example of this would be eyewear and glasses. When, though, did we start using glasses as a thing? When did humans come up with the invention of glasses?


The factual time for discovery and invention is often disputed, though evidence shows vintage frames could be a very old discovery indeed. Ancient writings from Roman and Greek historical periods shows mention of tools that were used to help improve visibility and “easily seeing” – often used for things like reading manuscripts or even viewing the battle of two Gladiators when sitting further back in the arenas. However, the first real noted of anything akin to glasses comes from the Middle Ages.


These, though, were the first mentions of something known as pince nez ; small glasses that come without any arms, and instead sit on the bridge of the nose. Typically, they were linked with the higher-ups in the intellectual class who wanted to help correct their vision.

However, the first sign of “spectacles” in the traditional sense comes from the late 1700s.


Vintage Glasses in France


Heading back in time, we move to 1796 towards the Haut-Jura region of France. Here, there is a natural gluttony of wood, minerals, and water. According to one discovery, the craftsman Pierre-Hyacinthe Cazeaux was producing nails as was his industry when his current pair of vintage glasses, made in Britain, snapped. By using tools he had already present from his nail manufacturing, he played around with iron wiring and created a kind of focal point for the glass itself to reside within. Many believe that this is the first proven “invention” of actual ‘hair glasses’ – and perhaps the very beginning of worn eyewear in the manner we all understand today.
However, the unsightly nature of their design meant that were not a major uptake on the use of antique eye glasses until the 19th Century. At this point, mechanisation was in full swing and we were able to create vintage eyewear without having to see each pair created by hand, thus cutting down on the cost and time of delivery massively. As we moved into the 20th Century, though, it was now that eyeglasses started to take on a far more fashionable style. The days of using glasses as a pure functional aide were gone.
As we moved into the middle of the century, then, glasses started to become not only more visible, but also far more fashionable. For years, retro glasses were nothing more than a useful accessory; now, they were becoming something that had function and fashion.


Indeed, the first sunglasses came to be modelled in the late 1920s, when Sam Foster created the first pairing. The fashion world was never the same again, and today we are used to seeing glasses come as part of an outfit as much as a prescription.

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What are Pince-Nez glasses?

The world of vintage eyewear comes with a whole range of styles which were liked and inspired by a great many people over history. However, some styles have come and go with little fanfare while others have stuck around for decades. However, one of the most popular styles of glasses in the 19th and 20th Centuries was known as Pince Nez glasses. Hugely popular, they were a totally different style from what you might have expected to see today.


Pince-Nez glasses, then, varied from the typical kind of eyewear that we all wear today through one important distinction – they were held up without earpieces. Instead of having the ‘legs’ that we expect in glasses today, it instead held itself on via the bridge of the nose. In fact, this is where the name stems from; the name Pince-Nez is a mixture of the French word pincer and nez, meaning “to pinch” and “nose” respectively.

Despite being immensely popular in the 19th and 20th Centuries, though, the actual history and usage of the Pince-Nez glasses goes much further back in history. Indeed, they were used commonly across Europe as early as the 14th Century. Peak popularity arrived sometimes in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before they were slowly but surely replaced by the modern style of glasses that we are all more aware of today.


What made the Pince-Nez glasses so popular?


As one of the most popular forms of vintage eyewear when you look across history, Pince-Nez glasses were hugely popular for various reasons. They were very popular as they offered the next step-up in terms of style and design for retro glasses. Previously, glasses were even more minimal and lacked any kind of means of keeping them held to our faces. For that reason, many people would either suffer with poor eyesight or go through pairs of glasses due to dropping, smashing, and general loss.

pince nez glasses
The Pince-Nez glasses, then, were so popular because they improved vision and were easy to wear then remove as needed. It’s a reason why they remained so popular for a long time to come, despite eventually being replaced by windsor glasses, steve jobs glasses and other forms of vintage glasses. However, it might be fair to say that the habit of even keeping legged glasses on a chain was inspired by the fact that, for years beforehand, people had kept their Pince-Nez glasses close by on a chain.


Pince-Nez glasses versus Oxford spectacles


One common misconception is that both Pince-Nez glasses and Oxford glasses are one and the same thing. However, while similarities are obvious, there is a difference in some specific designs and uses. The style was supposed to have been created after a professor at Oxford University snapped the handle from their lorgnette glasses and used small nose pads to help keep them in place as opposed to fixing the lorgnettes.


Oxfords actually managed to outlast the Pince-Nez glasses in some areas of the world, especially in Europe and America. Indeed, they were still in pretty common usage as late as the 1930s. Compared to Pince-Nez glasses, which slowly began to run out of visible usage in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Oxford glasses – though similar in many ways – were simply more long-lasting in some parts of the world.

pince-nez
By using the same thinking of using the nose as the bridge, though, the Oxford glasses and typical Pince-Nez glasses shared a similar idea. Though different in many ways, these spectacles share a similarity in that they focused on the same part of the face – the nose – as the focal point.


The chain of Pince-Nez glasses


If you look at old photos of someone wearing such a style of glasses, you might often notice they are held onto the body with a little chain. This was used as a suspension chain to connect the glasses to someone’s clothing. This meant they were much harder to lose and much easier to attach and wear as needed. However, the main reason was actually from a major social stigma that resided around the wearing and usage of glasses.


They were typically removed and worn with the use of a chain, cord, or ribbon, so that the user could quickly wear the glasses on-demand. At the time, even as late as the 1900s, there was a real stigma around people who wore glasses all-day long. The constant wearing of glasses was treated with contempt, so many chose to have their Pince-Nez glasses available to stick on as and when needed.


So, the chain that you see in photos? It wasn’t just for preservation of the glasses, but preservation of reputation.


Looking for Pince-Nez glasses?


Then take a look at our range of Pince-Nez glasses available today. These antique eyeglasses styles are hugely popular and could be just what you are looking for if you fancy something old-school and rather fetching. Take a look at our range of Pince-Nez glasses today, and see why these were such a popular form of eyewear for so long.

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When did cat eye glasses become a ‘thing’? The early history of cat eye glasses

When it comes to wearing vintage eyeglasses, we can find all manner of intriguing details about their history. Every shape and style of eyewear has, at one stage, been brought into fashion by someone. One of the most popular forms of glasses today are cat eye glasses – but when did these actually become a ‘thing’?
While designs tend to come and go in any industry, the fashion industry has a pretty peculiar history with eyewear. Glasses come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the most particular and stylish form of glasses comes from the cat eye styling. Cat eye glasses have gone through a resurgence as people focus on trying to find a vintage look that retains a very particular style. However, while other design styles might fade in and out of relevance, one thing you can say about cat eye glasses is they have stood the test of time. When, though, did such a particular style of glasses become a relevant ‘thing’? When did these particular shapes first come into being?


The beginning of cat eye glasses


The cat eye style was long one that was beloved by humans, with many classical cultures seeing cats as deity-like beings. The unique and particular shape of their eyes was often used as part of cultural designs and contexts, too. So, we’ve long known that humans have a fascination with the cat eye shape…so when did we decide to make it a shape for eyewear? Most believe that this first started up in the early 1930s.


The 1930s style of vintage cat eye glasses are hugely popular today as a commonly worn form of vintage eyewear. They were first born into being after Altina Schinasi found that there was visible lack of stylish options for females. She found that many of the styles of the day were bulky, lacking in style, and often were limited in how flattering they could be to the face. Having looked at other opticians, she made the decision to try and create a more flattering style of eyeglasses that could be worn in the future.


The aim, then, was simple: to come up with a design that was going to make sure that females could get some fetching glasses. Indeed, one of the biggest inspirations for cat eye glasses came from the masks worn by the women of Venice at the time. Looking for a frame that was more exaggerated and dramatic than the options currently on sale, Schinasi looked to create an image that was more stand-out than the very functional options which were on the market at the time.

cat eye glasses vintage
Her designs, though, were met with resistance; many local opticians rejected the designs, before eventually gaining a fan from a New York boutique who wished to take the idea further. Over the next decade, cat eye glasses became a common fashion accessory for females looking to stand out and look their stylish best.


The rise of cat eye glasses


Come the 1940s, then, cat eye eyewear was a common sight around the world. The famous frames were becoming the choice of eyewear for ladies, as the world slowly but surely began to move away from such a conservative view of how females should dress. Over time, though, the name changed; for a period in the 40s, these were known as a Harlequin. Rectangular lenses were used with strong, thick framing but completed with a small but noticeable uplift at the sides.
They would often be accompanied with smart fashionable features, too, such as tiny golden stars and other aesthetic details. This played a further role in changing how the glasses would be seen by the public, and over time they became a popular choice for most ladies who were in need of retro eyeglasses.


As we moved from the 1940s and into 1950s glasses, though, the design trend began to slim down a touch. No longer as clearly exaggerated as they were in the previous generation, they also became more narrow and typically pointed – like an actual feline pair of eyes. This became very popular across the decade, though, as cultural icon Marilyn Monroe took to wearing a set of cat eye sunglasses in her movies. Given she was the height of celebrity culture at the time, it should be of little surprise that many took to her style in a bid to try and copy it for themselves.

blue cat eye frames
The 1960s, though, was the beginning of a period of time when cat eye sunglasses were practically everywhere. A large part of that stemmed from the fact that Audrey Hepburn took to wearing them in her hit movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It changed the perception of the glasses style; now, it was being worn by two of the biggest female cultural icons of any era. It meant that cat eye eyewear soon received mass acceptance, with many who would have never worn such an item taking to wearing them thanks to the huge increase in their popularity and their general availability.


Moving forward


While today cat eye sunglasses have taken a huge boost in popularity, they were all the rage in the 1970s and 1980s, too. While stars like Hepburn and Monroe would fade from the limelight, others kept up the style for a whole lot longer. The 1970s seen the increase in the size, with the oversized glasses becoming a major style point that fitted in with the bombast and the grandeur of fashion across both decades.


The 1980s, too, seen a huge boost in the rise of celebrity culture and the iconic stature that musical masterminds and actors on the big screen could command. This led to a whole range of face-shielding frames becoming all the rage, as celebrities looked to hide themselves more as they headed out into public.
By this point in history, cat eye glasses were very much here to stay; an absolutely essential part of history that was not going to move anywhere. Today, cat eye eyewear is commonly found in just about any high street in the world; if you are looking for fashionable yet classic eyewear, cat eye glasses have been a go-to option for over five decades and counting.