Fashions in Eyeglasses – Book Review

People have worn spectacles since the middle ages, and styles have varied considerably.  Variations in use and appearance have been dictated as much by style and social status as by the need to improve eyesight. 

From simple beginnings with magnifying lenses riveted together to the outrageous styles of Elton John, as well as the rise in designer sunglasses and sportswear – Corson manages to chart the changing pattern of spectacles through the ages. 

Extremely informative, with lots of entertaining sidelines focusing on how people have chosen their glasses; as well as incredibly detailed drawings of spectacles.  Many of the drawings are period prints showing them in the context of the period.  Spectacles were not confined to the rich – in 1773 the cheapest English nose glasses sold for a shilling, while imported German ones could be had for 4 pence. 

Itinerant peddlers often included a selection of spectacles in their packs.  People tried on different ones and purchased the ones which seemed to work best. An unusual book, but one which will be of great value to costume designers, artists, actors and theatrical costumiers.