Eyeglasses from the American Revolution

At the time of the American Revolution nearly all eyeglasses in the Colonies came from England and Europe. The standard lens shape at that time was round. However, oval lenses had recently been introduced. The American Major-General Israel Putnam made a point of wearing the new oval lenses so that his spectacles “did not look as those of my enemy.” His glasses are now owned by the New York Historical Society. Other colonists did the same including Benjamin Franklin. Franklin marked his glasses “B. Franklin 1773.” I recently purchased an extensive collection of 18th century spectacles that included a pair of American Revolutionary War era spectacles in a steel case dated 1777. Only one other dated case from this era is known to exist. It is dated 1761. You can see images of this case and spectacle types in use during the revolution in the book, “Collectors Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution” pages 246 and 247. The book is written by George C. Neumann and Frank J. Kravi

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