CHAINED MELODY

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As far back as the 17th century, spectacle manufacturers experimented with ribbons of silk that could loop over the ears to attach the frame front. This temple-free eyewear style was widely popular from 1880 to the early 1900s, and it included a loop on the right lens for attaching a silk cord. Then eyeglass chains started to gain traction in the early 1900s. Pince nez eyeglasses followed the heavy steel and brass spectacle styles of the Civil War period. As the almost invisible rimless styles of eyewear became popular, so did the gold-filled process that originated in the jewelry business. As a result, the black silk cord evolved into a delicate chain that could be attached with fancy hairpins in the long Victorian hairstyles of the day, by ear hooks or by a broach with a retractable chain. Ketcham & McDougall manufactured one of the most popular eyeglass holders (pictured), and the Simmons Company was a jewelry manufacturer that advertised thin gold-filled chains (pictured). The American Optical Company offered all of these accessories in its 1912 catalog. Courtesy of the Optical Heritage Museum, opticalheritagemuseum.com

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