In the history of eyewear, there have been some classic styles or designs, such as cat-eye glasses and bug-eye glasses. These two examples refer mainly to the shape of corresponding spectacles. Actually, there are other factors which can make an eyewear design classic and unique. Horn-rimmed glasses are a typical example. According to its original definition, horn-rimmed eyeglasses mean eyewear products which are made of horn or tortoise shell. Some people may know that each period of the eyewear history would be predominated by one or several popular styles. Eyeglasses in the horn-rimmed style were the mainstream in 1910s and 1920s in the United States and after that they have been a standard for many decades. The original style did not have nose pads, which differentiated them from other glasses. In some instances, these glasses use saddle bridges to distribute their weight.
The modern definition of horn-rimmed glasses is much wider than the original one. Frame materials are no longer limited to horn and tortoise shell. Plastics in various kinds are used by manufacturers to simulate these original materials. Moreover, the appearance and meaning of this classic style have also been extended. Currently, any pair of eyeglasses that is dark, heavy and plastic framed can be called this name. The reason for this change in definition is complex. One possibility may be that frames made of tortoise shell were quite expensive in those early days in Europe. Americans then tried to use plastics to resemble the style of horn-rimmed eyewear, making them less expensive and available for ordinary individuals.
During the development and heritance of horn-rimmed glasses, a few of celebrities have played an important role. It is widely acknowledged that Harold Lloyd was the first person who made eyeglass wearing popular originally. His plastic horn-rimmed glasses set an example at that time and became the mainstream. As an American silent movie comedian, Harold Lloyd contributed greatly to the popularity of black horn-rimmed eyewear. Statistics show that he donned his signature glasses in approximately 200 movies, which would certainly boost its popularity. Another “celebrity” is Noah Bennet, who is even known as the man in horn-rimmed eyeglasses (HRG).