Inside the Collections Care Project: All the better to see you with

Nov 12, 2014

With phase one of Historic New England’s Collections Care Project wrapping up, we invite you to look back on all of the interesting types of objects we have temporarily moved in order to make improvements to our collections storage facility. This week we highlight the multitude of eyewear in the collection.

These two images show some of the variety in the collection. We have standard eyeglasses with rounded rims, sunglasses with green-tinted lenses, pince-nez, lorgnettes, and even a monocle or two. Many came to Historic New England with their cases and stories about the people who wore them.

Pince-nez are a type of glasses that do not have earpieces. They pinch the nose to stay on the face, which was likely not very comfortable, so they were not worn for long periods of time.

Lorgnettes, on the other hand, have a handle attached and were held up to the face to look through, similar to opera glasses. These tend to have much more decoration than eyeglasses. They were intricately molded or carved in various materials, such as tortoiseshell or precious metals, and were much more than purely functional pieces. Lorgnettes also came with elaborate methods for storage, such as sliding or folding with hinges and springs. 

See if you can identify the different types of eyeglasses in these two images, and let us know in the comments.

During phase two of the project, we will add new images to the Collections Access portal daily. Keep checking back to see new images as we make our way through the collection. 

Support the ongoing preservation of these treasures with a gift to the Collections and Conservation Fund.