Antique Wire Rim Glasses for Modern Wardrobes

Eyeglasses Warehouse has one of the largest online selections of antique and vintage glasses. Our gold, silver, brass, and steel wire rimmed eyeglasses in particular are a one-of-a-kind historical accessory for eyeglasses, sunglasses, or reenacting and film props. The majority of our wireframes were originally produced between the 1850s and mid-1900s.

Each pair has been carefully chosen by us and restored to excellent vintage condition before we add it to our website. As we reclaim glasses, we are always adding new wire-rimmed glasses to our inventory and invite you to continue checking back.

About Our Wire Rim Glasses

Wire rim glasses are what many people picture when they think of antique glasses. It wasn’t the only material in use historically. Tortoise shell and animal horn were also relatively common frame materials. But up until the 1940s and 1950s, wire frames were the dominant style.

Wire offered many benefits over other materials as it was readily available, less susceptible to damage, and easy to manipulate into the desired shape. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, those shapes were circular (such as Windsor glasses), oval, and egg-shaped.

Regardless of shape, most wire rimmed glasses have smaller lenses than their modern counterparts. This is because of more limited lens grinding technology and the need for glasses to sit closer to the face to keep them balanced before the invention of nose pads in 1921.

The various materials used in wire frame glasses remained largely unchanged over the decades that metals were used and included:

  • Gold 
  • Silver 
  • Brass
  • Steel
  • German Silver
  • Blued Steel

Many gold or silver frames used “plate” by wrapping the precious metal around a more inexpensive material.

To keep glasses on the wearer’s face without nose pads, manufacturers needed alternatives. The connection between the lenses is often what is known as a saddle bridge or W-bridge. It is a single piece of metal that curves over the nose, but does not offer much stability.

Instead, manufacturers used the temple pieces to help keep glasses on. The different styles included:

  • Riding Bow Temples – The most secure of the temple styles and one designed to stay on while horseback riding, these curved 180 degrees around the ear.
  • Straight Temples – These had no curvature save for a slight teardrop shape at the end of the temple. Generally ,they were only used for reading or other stationary tasks.
  • Sliding Temples – The sliding temples could be extended to adjust the fit or retracted for storage. They stayed on slightly better than straight temples.

Pince nez spectacles, a type of eyeglasses that pinched the nose to stay in place but had no arms, were also most often made with wire rims in gold or silver.

After the introduction of nose pads, these were added to wire rim glasses to create the “Marshwood” style. The nose pad on 

Incorporating Wire Rim Glasses from Eyeglasses Warehouse into Your Style

One of the benefits of wire rim glasses is that the metal is durable. Unlike early plastics in the 1950s that would crack over time, wire frames easily last for decades. This leaves us with thousands of wire frame spectacles in existence, and gives you plenty of choice in finding the right pair. It also means that many wire rimmed glasses are over 100 years old and a small piece of optical history.

With some restoration work from our talented team, our vintage wire rim glasses are ready to wear once more. We send glasses with plain, non-magnifying glass lenses that you can wear as is for an accessory or prop, or update with prescription lenses or tinted lenses.

We are constantly finding new wire rim glasses to add to our selection. If you don’t see the style and size you are looking for today, we encourage you to bookmark this page and check back frequently to see all the glasses we have available at Eyeglasses Warehouse.