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.