The invention of eyeglasses occurred about 700 years ago in Italy. The medieval glass guilds produced magnifying glass and some smartypants in 1284, two monks living in a monastery, actually, are credited by historians with making and promoting the invention of eyeglasses with 2 magnifying lenses, secured in a primitive frame to sit on your face, supported by your nose which just sits there protruding out and not doing much else.
By 1300, the Italian glass guild adopted a regulation for these magnifying lenses naming them "vetri da occhi". Half-blind people went wild for the magnifying eyeglasses.
Can you imagine? I can, since I've been wearing glasses for long-distance accurate viewing, and reading glasses for short-view reading for almost 20 years.
Yes Yes you can reuse a vintage frame and have new prescription lenses or just plain modern shaded glass installed.
funkomavintage always has a selection of hand-chosen vintage eyeglasses and vintage sunglasses. Some will be suitable for your prescription glasses, some will be for daily use, and all will have cool style, delightful fashion and all the classics you love.... RayBan, B&L, aviators, nerd glasses, military pilots styles and all the crazy shapes of the midcentury. Visit funkomavintage for vintage glasses here, and over here too.
Scroll to the bottom and learn how to measure for a well-fitting pair of glasses.
The historical record gives Benjamin Franklin, in 1760 or so, while in London, the credit for inventing bifocals or split lenses. In a frame, 2 pieces were installed with the bottom one having a magnifying lens and a piece of clear glass in the top.
When buying vintage eyeglass frames be sure to choose ones with barrel hinges if you want to change the lenses to your prescription, whether sunglasses or magnifying lenses. Only these heavy-duty hinges will support the frames and the lenses and help keep the glasses in the right shape for your face. Your optician with set the frames to your face so your eye will see through the lens at just the right place to give you the excellent vision you want.
Eyeglass shapes change with fashion and with technology. There are the modern classic shapes like these 2 vintage frames and of course, round, oval, rectangles, cateyes, and large oversize frames, Big Eye, became very popular in the 60s and 70s, and continued on through most of the 80s, when frames started getting smaller again. By the 90s, frames were turned into long rectangles just to make a new fashion.
The shape that has always remained popular, year in and year out, are the classic curved square in simple black frames or in clear colors, or wild colors and patterns.
Here's a pretty good example.
This vintage pair has a nifty twist. These are magnifying flip-ups. The whole lens assembly flips up away from your eyes, and flips down only when you need to the see tiny work, such as in brain surgery, needlepoint, and reading tiny numbers on your prescription bottles, and the warranty information on your iPhone.
The best frames have been made in Italy, France, Germany, and until about 30 years ago, the USA. Once the US moved its once-high-quality manufacturing to cheap ass China and other untalented and careless assembly lines, there are no quality glasses or frames made in the US anymore by large firms. A few micro-businesses have just started but they use imported frames and glass and just do assembly here in the US.
Ray-Ban invented pilot glasses and aviator frames for the US military, and they're now classic styles. Ray-Ban has had a long run of inventing frame shapes that everyone loves. The Wayfarer, the Clubman, the Shooters, and now they are knocked off by the billions.
Ray-Ban was bought by Italian firm Luxottica, and though you would assume this Italian brand would make a very fine pair of glasses, every pair of new frames I've bought in the last few years have been cheap and flimsy. That's very sad, but that is the reason why I choose a sturdy vintage frame for all my eyeglass and sunglasses needs. It's why funkomavintage sells great vintage glasses.
The most common material for modern frames is a kind of plastic because the technology improved so much since 1900, that it soon shoved metal, real tortoise shell, rigid leather and carved horn (hornrim), and wood, out of the way. Glasses are still made of high-quality gold-filled and silver coated metals, aluminum and others, but plastics are far and away, the most popular. Early plastics were gutta-percha, celluloid, and then nylon blends, acetate blends, and now widely used, strong and versatile, cellulose-acetate, we call zyl or zylonite. There are a lot of choices in modern frames.
Lenses are also made of modern space-age plastics, and not just glass anymore. Who can recall, a friend, with "Coke-bottle glasses" ??
The American industry of fine eyewear developed after the Revolutionary War in the late 1790's because of British import embargoes. Hundreds of American eyeglass makers sprung up, and the US became a leader in quality glasses.
In 1853, Mr. Bausch and Mr. Lomb combined their talents and formed Bausch and Lomb, B&L became another American success, known and sold worldwide.
In 1869 the American Optical Company was founded and you know them as "AO's".
And cateyes, we cannot forget Cateyes! The most popular frame of the 50s and 60s, was invented by Altina Schinasi in the late 1930s. She called them Harlequin, and fashion magazines dubbed them cat-eye eyeglasses.
Here is a pair of Tura cateyes, always famous for their innovative use of aluminum after WWII,
A slightly updated version of the black vintage classic eyeglasses with boxy square frames, shows a bit of the ol' cateye influence.
Cateye influenced, and oversized, these fashion forward 60s sunglasses had a neat springy hinge. It has gone kaput, but the glasses still work great and look fabulous!
NOW THESE! So mod and cool, these are big squares for cool people.Vintage 60s sturdy black plastic frames are just waiting for that special face.
How to Measure:
Width, between hinges: 5 inches, or thereabouts for an adult face. Then the lens width and height. Width from tip to tip, and also the width of the nose bridge. An optician can adjust almost any pair of frames to fit you very well, if the frame is almost perfect on you. They can't take a large frame and make it small, or vice versa, but small adjustments are common.
You will often see a measurement like 22/46 or something, on vintage frames and that is an optician code for sizing. If your glasses have a code, and you like the fit, you can shop that way.
The code is in millimeters, with the meaning of the first number being the width of the nose bridge. The second number is the width of the glass/plastic lens without the frame, at the smallest width.
Usually, you'll need 3 or 4 measurements.
You can measure your fave pair sunglasses to start figuring out your size. Just remember, sunglasses are a bit bigger than corrective frames/lens combos.
The temples are the side pieces of the glasses frame that fit over your ears. Start that measurement from the hinge straight to the bottom end of the temple. That's usually around 5 inches, but can be less or more. Once again, fashion changes a few things. There are no standards!
If your optician won't use your vintage frames, try a different business before you give up. Over the last 20 years as vintage frames have become more popular, many opticians will do it, as they have learned to be careful of vintage materials. Sometimes though, your chosen vintage frames just won't work for new lenses. Well, then, you have a fun pair of glasses. Try again to find a different optician. This reuse trend isn't going to go away, and more opticians will learn the tricks of the new and renew, eyeglasses trade.