Chic and retro eyeglasses from the 50s not to be turned into a toy

Published 8:38 pm Friday, September 13, 2019


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Question: Dear Jerry, what do you think of these retro eyeglasses? I think that they are just plastic and not the older bakelite. Surprisingly enough, they are prescription. How freaky is that? They are in excellent condition with no damages and all the stones are intact. No marks that I can see. They did come with a little velvet case. Should I hang on to them, or let my granddaughter play with them? Would they have any value?

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Answer: WOW! How very cool. I was hoping for something interesting to pop up in my email — and this is it. You have a vintage lorgnette. A lorgnette is a pair of eyeglasses with a handle. You hold them in place rather than have them perched on your nose and supported by your ears. The word “lorgnette” comes from the French word, lorgner, which means to take a sidelong look at, and from the Middle French lorgne, which means squinting.

Why is it strange that they would be prescription glasses? At one time these were the height of style and sophistication. Pieces like these were more jewelry than just eyewear. I found several examples online, but not exactly like these. I also discovered that there were several companies that could have manufactured them, so that’s a tough one to really pin down.

Picture it — a 1950s bridge club with a couple dozen ladies in full skirts, reminiscent of

what would have been worn on an episode of “I Love Lucy.” Swishy skirts that softly rustled when they walked. Hair, nails and makeup to perfection. Linen bridge cloths in pastel colors, ironed and starched within an inch of their threads. The air perfumed with cigarette smoke and Chanel #5.

Suddenly, with cat like reflexes, a woman named Mable, picks up her lorgnette, to examine the new woman joining the group. Do you get how cool and retro they are now?

Collectors love them. I found lots of examples online. I think that in the right place that sells

vintage and retro clothing items, these would be priced for about $45. No, don’t let your granddaughter play with them. They are too classy to be transformed into a toy. Thanks for a great question.