When it comes to vintage spectacles, few brands have gained the recognition that American Optical has. Eyeglasses Warehouse is proud to offer one of the widest selections of these vintage glasses, with spectacles of different styles, ages, and more.
Whether you want antique spectacles from the Civil War era or a pair of iconic 1950s frames, our inventory of American Optical glasses has the type of vintage glasses you want. See all of the reclaimed glasses we have available below, and check back frequently as we add new styles.
About American Optical Eyeglasses
American Optical, often called AO, traces its roots to William Beecher, a jewelry maker who started making spectacles in 1826 in Massachusetts. Stockbridge, the town he worked in, was a major center for eyeglasses production, and the various companies merged together into American Optical in 1869. They are one of the oldest, and by the 1900s one of the largest, glasses brands in the world.
Their long history means that American Optical has made many different styles of vintage glasses, including:
- Antique Steel Frame Eyeglasses – When still under the management of William Beecher, American Optical was the first to produce steel frame glasses in 1843. Steel is durable, affordable, and easy to shape, making it ideal for eyeglasses needed for daily wear. Today, many vintage steel frame glasses from the 1800s and early 1900s remain, and are ready to be worn for decades more.
- Vintage Rimless Glasses – American Optical was also the first company to manufacture rimless glasses, which they developed in the 1870s. By riveting the temples and bridge directly to the glass, they were able to make sleeker looking eyewear. The rimless style remains popular today, but vintage glasses from American Optical bring a more nostalgic look.
- American Optical Ful-Vue Glasses – Earlier glasses designs had the temples connected at the midpoint of the lenses. But in 1930, this became a problem as the placement blocked the peripheral vision of drivers, and more and more Americans were moving to the road. AO launched their Ful-Vue glasses which moved the temples to the top corner to give the wearer a “full view” from all angles.
- Aviator Glasses – American Optical first developed aviators for military pilots, but they soon came into fashion with civilians following WWII who imitated military heros like Dwight Eisenhower. Our vintage American Optical aviators offer iconic style from a dependable brand.
- 1950s Cat Eye Glasses – Cat eye glasses were the most memorable style for women’s glasses in the 1950s, and vintage cat eye glasses have a nostalgic look. The flared frames and artistic accents make AO cat eye glasses unique.
American Optical was also a leader in eyeglasses as fashion accessories for men and women. From their own innovative designs to partnerships with well-known fashion designers like Claire McCardell and Elsa Schiaparelli in the 50s and Oscar de la Renta in the 70s, AO vintage glasses represent leading styles from the past century, and you can find their most popular styles here at Eyeglasses Warehouse.
Throughout the years, AO glasses have been worn by military personnel, athletes, NASA astronauts, and politicians like John F. Kennedy. But they remain most popular with those who want stylish and functional eyewear.
Vintage glasses from American Optical are high quality, and with nearly 2 centuries of production and millions of different glasses, there is sure to be a pair of vintage AO eyeglasses that fits every style. The AO glasses at Eyeglasses Warehouse are all authentic vintage spectacles, collected and reclaimed by our team so that you can customize them with the lenses of your choice.
Browse our collection of American Optical glasses, or check out vintage eyewear in our inventory from other leading brands.