The contemporary history of eye frames

October 16th, 2009 by Richard Schneider Leave a reply »

The history of eye frames is a part of the history of spectacles. Before the modern shape of eye frames occurred, several centuries had been gone through since the invention of the glass lenses. It was until 1928, a London optician Edward Scarlett developed the temples to the eye frame, from then a new era was opened for the contemporary eye frames industry.

Before Edward, the most recent way of holding the two lenses in eye frame was to tie the eye frame around the head using ribbon or metal string. These ancient eye frame on the nose were heavy therefore usually causing pinching. In order to reduce the weight, people started to make eye frames made of tortoise-shell, which also superstitiously meant to bring good luck to the wearers. People also mounted the lenses on the fans, walk sticks for the convenience of use. Other than nose eye frame, people could choose monocle and lorgnette or scissors glasses.

In 1728, Edward’s genius invention of temples revealed the rudiment of today’s eye frames. Actually Edward’s idea was just to use the two arms to clamp at the temple area, and ribbons were still used to tie around the skull, so that the eye frame could be secured on the face. It was by 1880, temples were designed to curve at the end and the curves were used to hook the whole eye frame on the nose.

Before Americans developed the eye frames and spectacles trade in the early 1900s, the eye frames were mostly made in Europe and were very precious and expensive. Americans made tortoiseshell and horn-rimmed eye frames in the 1920s and 1930s, which were very popular at that time. Also in order to cater to the tastes and needs of those status conscious buyers, Americans developed and made a lot of gold and silver eye frames then. Till WWII, steel-made eye frame became popular for their fashion design and durability.

In the 20th century, a type of plastics were developed which gradually occupied the major percentage of the eye frame industry. Plastics offered the wearers with widest varieties of eye frames in colors, styles and patterns due to its easy molding and low cost. Later the popularity of sunglasses in Hollywood further boosted the design and manufacturing of eye frames.

Today’s eye frames are already a part of the fashion accessories just the same as clothes, jewelry and shoes. Unlike our predecessors in some two hundred fifty years ago struggling to use lenses to see blurry things clearer, our eye frames are applied to enhance persona and facial beauty.


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