Windsor Glasses

Here at Vintage Eyeglasses Warehouse, antique round frames are our most sought after style. Of the vintage circular glasses, Windsor glasses are perhaps the most recognizable. Their perfectly round frames, thin eyewires, and curved temples stand out today for a retro look reminiscent of everything from Victorian fashion to John Lennon’s iconic style.

Our Windsor eyeglasses are antique pieces that we have reclaimed and restored. Most are in wearable vintage condition and can be easily fit with any circular frames to transform them into prescription glasses or Windsor sunglasses.

About Windsor Glasses at Vintage Eyeglasses Warehouse

Windsor eyeglasses were first produced in Britain in the 1840s and were brought to America shortly after. They eventually caught on and, by the 1880s, were one of the most in demand eyeglass frames. They remained popular until the 1920s, and continued to come back into style as a vintage look every few decades.

Several different celebrities and historical figures have been associated with these iconic glasses. John Lennon often wore them, giving rise to the nickname “John Lennon Glasses” for these spectacles. Other famous figures included Gandhi, Theodore Roosevelt, and, more recently, Whoopi Golberg and the fictional character Harry Potter.

What Defines Windsor Eyeglasses?

Windsor glasses were popular at the same time as other vintage round glasses like pince nez and Marshwood glasses, but a few features distinguish Windsor glasses specifically. These are:

  • Round Lenses – The lenses and eye wires on original Windsor glasses are circular. Unlike other shaped lenses that could only be remade by the initial manufacturer, round lenses from any brand could be a replacement in Windsor glasses.
  • Temples at the Midpoint – The temple arms connected to the eye wires at the exact center of the frames, centering the lenses directly over the eyes.
  • Nose Saddle – Windsor glasses used a saddle bridge between the lenses that let the glasses rest on the nose. Nose pads had not yet been invented so the bridge had no real role in holding the glasses in place.
  • Riding Bow Temples – The arms of the glasses have a 180 degree curve that wraps around the ear. These were originally developed to hold glasses in place while horseback riding, and were used on Windsor glasses for extra staying power during daily wear.

When they were first made in the mid-1800s, Windsor glasses had metal frames in gold, silver, and steel. Celluloid (specifically Zylo) and plastic coatings for the frames became popular as the materials became available in later decades at which point colors and mock tortoiseshell patterns became more popular.

The production of true Windsor glasses fell out of fashion in the 1920s after the invention of nose pads. At this point, glasses similar in appearance, still often referred to as Windsors, incorporated nose pads and used a more gentle curvature in the temples since the additional stability was no longer needed.
You can see our available Windsor glasses here, or check out our other vintage round glasses. We also recommend coming back to this page regularly to see our newest arrivals.