Opera Glasses

Opera glasses were introduced around 1800. By 1850 they were refined to the type most commonly found today. They are of two styles: hard bridge and folding bridge. The hard bridge style came in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The folding bridge solved the problem of varying pupil distance between people by making use of a hinged bridge. The folding bridge also came in sizes small to large. Opera and theater were the preferred entertainment of the Victorian and Edwardian periods (mid-1800s through 1920); even small towns had an Opera House. Opera glasses became a fashion statement for the well-to-do woman and were often sold by jewelry stores since functionality did not matter. Opera glasses are heavily gilded, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, enameled, engraved, and sometimes decorated with miniature paintings. The better examples were made in France and England.