I never thought I would collect antique glasses but when I ran across these pairs I was intrigued. I picked the following two pairs up at a WWII Reenactment & Antique sale in July.
These eyeglasses are from the Civil War (no later than 1850) with the original "case". I say "case" because it's just a metal tube with one open end that the glasses slide into. However it seems very sturdy and would protect (and have protected) these glasses well. Thanks to the Arkansas Toothpick, I found tons of information about these glasses. Made from nickle, this pair has rectangle frames, a "yoke" type nose piece and telescoping ear pieces so one could adjust the length.
At the end of the Revolution the circle style frames where replaced with above "square" frames. Then in the 1860's the square was replaced with the oval and later the coffin shaped frame came about. It is amazing how small and heavy they are and glass is so thick compared to today's ultra thin glass.
This is a "Astig" or spring bridge made by Pince-nez. Used in Europe in the 15th , 16th and 17th century and made popular by the 19th century. These glasses are supported with out earpieces but rather they pinched the bridge of the nose hence the name. Pince = pinch and nez = nose...makes sense right? The type shown above has a sliding bar that connects the lenses and can expand with a gentle pull. The nose pads are hinged and made with cork! This style was popular in the late 1800's- early 1900's.
Until I poked around Google about these glasses I wondered how they were worn. Obviously I knew nothing about the telescoping bridge. Once I found out you know I had to try them on...lol Please excuse the mess that is me, not very photogenic today...just plain 'ol me :)
These things are so cool. No, there is no glass and they feel funny to wear, but they really do stay on! I found several people wore Pince-nez glasses from President Roosevelt to Laurence Fishburne's character Morpheus in the Matrix...cool!
The Pince-nez glasses came in this case (below). Obviously the French eyeglasses are not issued by the German Army. Dienst-Brille was a service issued eyeglasses for the German Wehrmacht from 1935-1945. I could not find much actual information about Dienst-Brille...or even what the name means. I did find some original cases, but mostly a lot of reproductions. What I found very interesting is that all the cases I found had a blue insert. Where, if you look at the above picture of the Pince-nez, the insert in my Dienst-Brille case is maroon. I couldn't find even one case on Google that has a maroon insert. Weird.
On the underside of insert is this stamp. I have no idea what it means. From what I could gather "Reutlingen" is a city in Germany. "Optiker" means Optician and Ackermann, well there are several Akermann eyeglass stores in Reutlingen. So from what I could piece together...maybe they were made by this Akermann store? I don't know. If anyone out there in cyberspace has any information about this stamp or why the insert is maroon, please let me know!
I also have a thought about why maybe the French glasses were in a German case. Apparently a small number of frontline German fighter pilots serving with the Luftstreitkräfte in WWI wore a style of Pince-nez frames. So who knows, it's a thought.