6 Other Types of Eyeglasses

1. Pince-nez

When you see a pair of pince-nez, which, in French, literally means "to pinch the nose," you probably think of President Teddy Roosevelt. He was famous for wearing a C-bridge type of pince-nez. However, pince-nez first appeared in Europe in the 15th century. But they didn't become fashionable in the U.S. until the end of the 19th century and were already waning in popularity by the time Teddy Roosevelt became president. Pince-nez were worn by both men and women, but the ones made for women were usually rimless and suspended on fine gold chains. Pince-nez came in three main styles: hard bridge, C-bridge, and spring bridge, which were considered "sporty." The hard bridge, which had to be fitted to the width of your nose, were actually used through the 1950s.

2. Monocle

Although the monocle was used as far back as 1720 by antiques connoisseur Philipp Von Stosch to examine treasures, the simplest form of monocles were not found in England until the 1830s. These consisted of a corrective lens in a wire frame, but were improved in the 1890s by adding a raised "gallery" which held the lens slightly off the eye to keep eyelashes from knocking against it. The final improvement came in the early 20th century when frameless monocles were custom fit to the shape of an individual eye. Although monocles are most often associated with the upper crust, gentlemen in the 19th century and upper-class German officers during World War I, Vision Express Eyewear in England debuted a new line of monocles at the end of 2009 in its London shops. The retailer says that it had many requests for monocles—yes, fashion is a circular as, well, as a monocle.

3. Quizzing glasses

Quizzing glasses, or quizzers as they're sometimes called, are similar to monocles, however, you hold them up to your eye by a handle, much like opera glasses (see No. 6). The lenses came in three variety of shapes: round, oval, or oblong. Quizzers, like other early eyeglasses, were often elaborate and intricate. The outer rims were often faceted, pinkbeck, decorated with turqoise, or even encrusted with diamonds. The loop, which attached to a chain so that you wouldn't lose the glasses, were works of art as well. Some interesting examples of loop designs include a dolphin swallowing its own head, a Roman harp, and back-to-back Chinese dragons.

4. Scissor-glasses

Scissor-glasses, or binocles-ciseaux in French, originated around the second half of the 18th century. They were primarily used to correct distance vision and were invented to replaced the single lens quizzing glasses, which were believed to tire the eye. Scissor-glasses were often very ornate, yet delicate, made of gold or vermeil with precious stones. Consisting of two arms on a fixed base, the glasses usually had a loop on the bottom so that they could be worn around the neck on a ribbon or gold chain. In post-revolutionary France these were an important and tres chic accessory. George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Napoleon were all known to have used binocles-ciseaux.

5. Lorgnette

The lorgnette is believed to have developed from the scissor glasses by an Englishman named George Adams. With two lenses on a lateral handle, it quickly became popular with fashionable ladies in the 18th century and continued to be popular through the end of the 19th century. The word lorgnette derives from the Middle French word lorgne. which means "to squint." These glasses were, like scissor glasses, considered more jewelry than corrective eye-wear. The lorgnette was also a popular accessory for masquerade balls. This design led to modern opera glasses.

6. Opera glasses

An adaptation of the lorgnette, opera glasses also used a handle to hold the glasses in front of the eyes. Also known as "theatre binoculars" or Galilean binoculars, opera glasses differ from binoculars as they are more compact, and are able to focus easily indoors and at short distances. Opera glasses became popular in the 1820s when theater owners wanted to give patrons in cheaper seats the same advantage of front row seats. Although, they were more often used to scope out other operagoers than watch the performance. You may recall that President Lincoln had a pair of these on him at the Ford theater that fated night. They are estimated to be worth around $4.25 million! Like the opera itself, the opera glasses are most often elegant, intricate, and elaborate.

Pete Jelliffe, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Pop Culture
Glove Story: The Freezy Freakies Phenomenon of the 1980s
Pete Jelliffe, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Pete Jelliffe, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Kids who grew up in the northeast in the 1980s were pretty invested in a fad that might have gone unnoticed in warmer parts of the country. Cajoling their parents at department stores during shopping trips, hundreds of thousands of them came home sporting a pair of Freezy Freakies—thick winter gloves that came with a built-in parlor trick. When the temperature dipped below 40°F, an image would suddenly appear on the back part of the material.

Swany America Corporation, which made, marketed, and distributed the gloves, released more than 30 original designs beginning in 1980. There was a robot, a unicorn, rocket ships, ballerinas, rainbows, snowflakes, and various sports themes, though the “I Love Snow” image (below) may have been the most popular overall. At the height of Freezy mania, Swany was moving 300,000 pairs of gloves per year, which accounted for about 20 percent of their overall sales.

A Freezy Freakies glove before and after the temperature change
Freezy Freakies

“Boys loved the robot design,” Bruce Weinberg, Swany’s vice president and a former sales director for Freezy Freakies, tells Mental Floss. “Above 40 degrees, the image would disappear.”

The secret to the $13 Freakies was thermochromic ink, a temperature-sensitive dye that's been used in mood rings and heat-sensitive food labels and can appear translucent until it's exposed to warmer temperatures. Swany licensed the ink from Pilot, the Japanese-based pen company, after Swany CEO Etsuo Miyoshi saw the technology and thought it would be a good fit for his glove-focused operation. (Though they experimented with making luggage in the 1990s, Swany has predominantly been a manufacturer of higher-end ski gloves.)

Weinberg isn’t sure how Miyoshi settled on the “Freezy Freakies” name—the president is now retired—but says Miyoshi knew they had a hit early on. “After a few seasons, they could tell they had a winner product,” he says. Swany even put advertising dollars into TV commercials, a rare strategy for glove-makers not named Isotoner.

Pilot was able to adjust the temperature at which the ink would become transparent, or vice versa. If kids were impatient, or if it happened to be during the summer, Weinberg says it wasn’t uncommon to find Freezy Freakies stuck in the freezer so they could materialize their art design. “At trade shows, we’d do something similar with some ice or a cold soda,” he says. “All of a sudden, some ice cubes would make it change, and buyers would think that was really cool.”

The Freakies were such a hit that Swany licensed jackets and considered changing the name of the company to the same name as the glove. It’s probably just as well they didn’t: While Freakies lasted well over a decade, by the 1990s, things had cooled. In the new millennium, Swany was down to selling just a few hundred pairs a year. Color-changing ink for coffee mugs or beer cans was more pervasive, wearing down the novelty; knock-offs had also grabbed licensed cartoon characters, which Swany was never interested in pursuing.

The brand was dormant when a company named Buffoonery approached Swany in 2013 to license Freezy Freakies for a crowdfunded revival. This time, the gloves came in adult sizes for $34. The partnership has been successful, and Weinberg says Buffoonery has just signed an extension to start producing kids’ gloves.

“Parents will probably want matching ones for their kids,” Weinberg says. And both might still wind up in the freezer.

Live Smarter
The Very Disgusting Reason You Should Always Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them

It’s sometimes assumed that clothing with a price tag still dangling from the sleeve can skip an initial wash. Someone else may have tried it on, sure, but they didn’t run a marathon in it. Why not just throw it in the closet as soon as you get home?

One big reason: lice. As The Independent reports, Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told NBC's Today show recently that clothing fresh off store racks can harbor infestations of lice, scabies, or fungus.

You might be familiar with head lice as the dreaded insects that occupy the scalp and give school health monitors cause for concern. Head lice can be transmitted via clothing and other fabrics, and anyone who tried on a shirt or dress before you did can be a carrier. While they only live for one or two days without a blood meal, that’s still enough time to cause problems if something is being tried on frequently.

Scabies is far more insidious. The mites are too small to see, but the allergic reaction they cause by burrowing into your skin to lay eggs will be obvious.

Both scabies and lice can be treated with topical solutions, but it’s better to kill them by washing new clothes in hot water. A good soak can also get rid of formaldehyde, a common chemical used in fabrics to help ward off mold in case stock gets wet in transit. Formaldehyde can cause allergic skin reactions. For all of these reasons, it’s best to hit the washing machine before those new pants ever hit your hanger.

[h/t Independent]


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