You know about history with a big H… but do you know about history with big lenses? While glasses are part of our everyday lives and have even become essential fashion accessories, you’d probably expect that not many people wore them 2000 years ago… which is why Amazing Eyewear is taking a look at the history of glasses for you, from antiquity to vintage glasses of today!
There is evidence of ancient writings from Greece and Rome mentioning various techniques for “more easily seeing” small manuscript letters or gladiatorial battles, but it is not until the Middle Ages that there is evidence, primarily in Italy, of the first use of binocles, glasses without any arms, which sat directly on the nose. A long way from fashion shows and original collections! The glasses were reserved for a learned minority of people to correct their vision in the most rudimentary way.
© Gouverneur Audigier
In 1796, not far from Morez in the Haut-Jura region of France, which lives off its metal industry owing to the wealth of minerals, wood, and water it has at its disposal, “spectacles were created from a single nail”. The craftsman Pierre-Hyacinthe Cazeaux was producing nails as usual when his British-made glasses broke. He set about repairing them, using the tools he had to hand and playing with the iron wires that he handled so skillfully. That is how the first “hair glasses” came to be, and the region became the birthplace of eyewear.
Originally deemed unsightly, it was not until the nineteenth century that spectacles were democratized through the development of mechanization, putting an end to hand-made glasses manufacturing. It was even later, in the mid-twentieth century, when design and fashion embraced this accessory, which had until then been little more than a practical item. This is when we reach the heart of the subject! When Sam Foster marketed the first real model of sunglasses in 1929, a small revolution took place in the world of fashion, much to our delight.
That’s enough of the technical timeline: at Amazing Eyewear, we’re not foremost experts in the history of science. But when it comes to designers and eyewear manufacturers, we really know our stuff. We can’t wait to show you the vintage frames that have marked history!
Featured image: SALT. – AL frame