Stop squinting
April 6, 2006 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Antique Spectacles David Fleishman, M.D., a retired ophthalmologist, has compiled a rather extensive collection of information about spectacles and their importance in history. In addition to many examples of early spectacles and information about the spectacles worn by figures in history, there is a general history - Eyeglasses Through the Ages:[R]eading glasses are one of the most important inventions of the past 2000 years.... No one really knows about the early history of image magnification. In ancient times, someone noticed that convex-shaped glass magnified images. Sometime between the year 1000 and 1250 crude technology began to develop regarding reading stones (simple magnifiers). English Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon (1220 -1292), in his 1268 ‘Opus Majus’, noted that letters could be seen better and larger when viewed through less than half a sphere of glass. Bacon's experiments confirmed the principle of the convex (converging) lens, described by Alhazen (965-1038) Arabian mathematician, optician and astronomer at Cairo, and even earlier by the Greeks. (via the dead tree version of the WSJ)
posted by caddis (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thinking about the importance of reading glasses always reminds me of The Twilight Zone episode, "Time Enough to Last."
posted by caddis at 9:20 AM on April 6, 2006

The latest eyeglasses will change focus automatically.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:45 AM on April 6, 2006

The best thing about antique spectacles is that if you receive them as a gift, you can go back in time to the mid-1980s, and, in a pinch, sell them for the "cash" that the primitive Earthlings of the time used to exchange for goods and services. If the person who gave them to you objects, then you can tell him that you'll get them again in the future, probably because you yourself sold them to the antique store in the past. Bonus!
posted by UKnowForKids at 9:56 AM on April 6, 2006

Darn it, you beat me to it, UKnow. Curses!!

But come on, only $100? Even in the 80s that wasn't very much....
posted by zoogleplex at 10:25 AM on April 6, 2006

posted by lazymonster at 10:27 AM on April 6, 2006

Frankly, without glasses, think how useless most MeFiers would be. As lazymonster says, "nerds." Before glasses, one's life more or less would end with the onset of middle age sight defecits.
posted by Faze at 10:46 AM on April 6, 2006

Speaking of time-travelling optics vendors, would that cause a substantially mis-match in the value of goods? Everytime you sent them back into the past they would almost double in absolute age, while the relative age would remain unchanged. "These glasses from 1840 are over 12,000 years old! "They're a steal at $100!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:55 AM on April 6, 2006

My head asplode!
posted by UKnowForKids at 10:56 AM on April 6, 2006

It pains me deeply to admit this, but...
I don't know what you're referencing.

Time-travelling glasses? Please elucidate.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:34 AM on April 6, 2006

$100 dollars. Is that a lot?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:05 PM on April 6, 2006

I don't know what you're referencing.

posted by dhartung at 12:17 PM on April 6, 2006

::hangs head in shame, turns in Junior Trekker Decoder Badge, commits seppuku with batlheth::
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:22 PM on April 6, 2006

That's a pretty sweet link there, dhartung. I went up one directory and read several of his other "ramblings" (after removing the extra /ramblings from each URL) and wasted a good fifteen minutes or so.
posted by UKnowForKids at 12:56 PM on April 6, 2006

Faint of Butt: See Here
posted by blue_beetle at 1:11 PM on April 6, 2006

on preview: nevermind.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:12 PM on April 6, 2006

Currently doing the rounds at the moment is a fly with glasses.
posted by tellurian at 4:37 PM on April 6, 2006

Saw this in the WSJ this morning and wondered if it had ever been posted here. Thanks, caddis; it's a truly great and wonderfully obsessive site.
posted by mediareport at 5:51 PM on April 6, 2006

Wowie, this is a truly fabulous magnificent obsession site - love it. This spectacles peddlers page is fascinating and has great images. And tellurian, the site keeper should add that fly image to his delightful page of animals with spectacles.

Thanks, caddis!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:20 PM on April 6, 2006

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