LOOKING BACK – JUNE 2014

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NOSEY BUSINESS

Talk about taking a village. For eyewear to get from “there” (i.e., the past) to “here” (the present) required a host of artisans-
everyone from glassmakers to jewelers to clockmakers and scientists. And that includes the metamorphous of slit bridge spectacles,
spherical ovals that somehow, miraculously, stayed teetered on the edge of one’s nose. The bridge of early spectacles was a key component
of their design. Side arms or temple pieces were not invented until 1727, so for roughly 400 years spectacle makers worked to provide
eyeglasses that could balance comfortably on the nose. Leather frames with a rigid bridge provided stability but for flexibility these artisans
turned to horn or bone. During the 1600s, the slit bridge design provided a spring action that aimed to be comfortable and sturdy.
The one, above right, dates to 1650, while the leather one on the left is from around 1700.

Courtesy of The Museum of Vision, museumofvision.org.

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