Dating opera glasses

Personal possessions tell us so much about how life has changed, how style and design and fashion and personal tastes have all morphed and moved over time, and with the times. A few days ago I stumbled across this curious item at the local weekend flea market. It was so whimsical and cute, I just had to make it the focus of my 6th anniversary post! Yep, six years ago, at the end of October, , I started this blog. And in honour of that momentous occasion, of which nobody reading this is likely to be aware…I present this! So easily overlooked, I found these in a display-case of bits and pieces at the flea-market last weekend.

vintage optical opera glasses

This online exhibition is about a particular kind of binocular instrument with very simple optics. Opera glasses preceded field binoculars in date and they form a collecting category in their own right. Let's start theatrically In the 18th and 19th centuries there was much excitement going on at the theatre, opera house or music hall A print and a drawing in the museum's collection both seen in the image gallery above together give an indication of the activity within the auditorium.

The drama of the scene is confined to the audience; the stage is only just visible through the curtain. Our exquisite friend did not require optical aids to see the performance but then neither did many in the rest of the audience. Theatres, of which there were many to be found, even in relatively quite minor towns, were often small and intimate, with the action not too far away. Opera glasses were used as much for pretentious display or to look at your neighbours perhaps the goings on in a box as for viewing the stage.

When the stage was viewed it was not always for the most proper purposes and gentlemen users in particular might be accused of lechery as in the German drawing The ballet enthusiast with opera glasses - the dancing figures do not come close enough to his eyes! The artist has caricatured the scene by providing oversize opera glasses, but quite large examples did exist for men and small versions for children.

These images are part of the museum's collection of around five hundred prints and drawings, about which you can learn more in our Virtual print room gallery. According to the evidence contained in our collection, opera glasses might even be used in a court room, the proceedings of which could be quite dramatic! As it Ought to Be - or - The Ladies Trying a Contemptible Scoundrel for a Breach of Promise includes a vindictive woman using the opera glasses to ensure that justice is served on the errant man.

The first items to be advertised by the name of opera glasses, in the s, would not now be considered to be opera glasses. They were in fact monocular spyglasses. Optically, opera glasses can be classified as binocular versions of the Galilean telescope. That is to say they feature a concave eyepiece and a convex objective lens usually larger which used in combination at opposite ends of a tube result in a magnified, upright image to the viewer.

In fact the enclosing tube isn't always strictly necessary as shown by the rare skeleton pair made of tortoiseshell in our collection. The lens rims fold down over the handle when not in use. We think this pair dates from about Opera glasses do not really occur before although the concept can be traced back to when the Staten-Generaal of the Dutch Republic rejected Lipperhey's application for a patent of the telescope, at the same time calling for a binocular instrument.

In Johann Friedrich Voigtlander , an optician in Vienna, used two bridging frames to fix together the barrels of two identical ivory and gilt spyglasses. Each eye was adjusted separately by means of individual draw tubes. Although his products were a success he may not have been the first to mount two spyglasses together. A retrospective account by the English optician J. Hudson, written in , claimed the practice had been going on since Subsequently Monneret devised a patent screw.

By twisting one of the barrels you could cause it to extend. Thus the two eyetubes could be adjusted simultaneously, achieving proper 'collimation' of two optical devices for single vision. During the 19th century opera glasses became very popular. One theory is that the work carried out on stereoscopy by Wheatstone and Brewster in the s and s had helped to drive a public interest in using both eyes together.

A typical pair of London opera glasses is shown here from the third quarter of the nineteenth century, displaying three bridges and a central focusing wheel. This pair is marked 'Frederick Cox, 98 Newgate Street' the address where Cox worked from and has flared brass tubes with dark blue and white enamel casing. The decoration includes pink and blue flowers within four white ovals whilst the focusing wheel and eyepiece rims are of Mother-of-Pearl.

The best French examples were similar to this. The example shown on the right is marked Tiffany's, Paris and even though the amorous couple painted on the enamel are of eighteenth century appearance the object can be dated firmly to the period Other folding types for ladies were supplied within cases resembling a purse. The 'La Reine' model was of decorative silver with a silver chain to carry it and a red garnet to adorn the opening mechanism.

In the mid 20th century the Rand No 1 opera glass was marketed as 'suitable for a waistcoat pocket or a lady's evening bag'. Another of our purse examples left is of white kid leather with gilded decoration and is inlaid with Mother of Pearl panels. The eyepieces are covered with brass swivelling shutters that may be intended to represent coins. Called the 'Pocoscope', it dates from the s. Multiple draw opera glasses are more rare, as with this patented example in ivory and brass from - shown on the right.

One or two draws would be more normal. The resemblance of this object to two spyglasses is quite striking. Some opera glasses were made for prestige clients from very precious materials. Such objects will often be treated by museums or antique dealers as decorative arts objects rather than optical devices. Indeed the optical power of opera glasses is usually weak, seldom producing a magnification of more than X3, however that is usually adequate to see the action on a stage whilst retaining a bright enough image and a wide field of view.

This very fragile pair of collapsible opera glasses [shown on the left] features telescopic paper tubes. It was made in midth century France. Similar examples exist where the paper has rotted away completely leaving just a skeleton framework. Unusually, the handle now missing and Mother-of-Pearl focusing screw are at the opposite end to the eyepieces. Opera glasses are often described in French as a 'lorgnette'. Despite the obvious confusion you can see how this came about since many French examples had long handles.

Our illustration, on the right, shows a French pair with panelled barrels from circa Note the extendable single-pivot handle with a decorative branch pattern depicted carefully upon its surface. The handle terminates with a suspension ring. This particular handle is quite thick. Handles were notorious weak spots. If the item was dropped they could also damage the optical parts over which they had to be folded. Separate handles that clipped on or off according to preference were soon developed.

There were many designs for opera glass handles in this period. They were even the subject of their own patents. Since handles made of brittle materials were prone to break off, efforts concentrated on developing clamps that were purposefully detachable. Previously mistaken for a lorgnette handle this clamping handle has a metal barrel with deeply carved floral decoration. The clamp is adjusted with a milled turning wheel. A large metal suspension ring at the end of handle might have allowed attachment to a belt or sash.

In the USA handles were often called 'holders'. The important point was that the glasses could be mounted. In a patent of William Mack of Indiana referred to 'a detachable handle, cane or other suitable article'. In a further patent of the same year he explained that 'the object of the invention is to provide means whereby an opera-glass can be held to the eyes without having to hold the hand or hands at such an inconvenient height It is marked with Mack's patent for a telescopic handle but otherwise resembles Isley's design far more closely.

It has a gold-plate shaft and a somewhat weak tortoiseshell joint. The maker was the Julius King Optical Company. We have presented the image for you alongside the original patent drawing by Isley. The telescopic handle was heavily promoted in the s as seen by this Zeiss pamphlet of This explains that the Teleater was ideal for viewing more than one actor on the stage at a time.

Due to its simple refocusing it could also be used with ease for viewing the audience during the interval. It came with a range of available accessories including a rigid leather case or a soft bag decorated with beads. In the s several designers, including James Aitchison, tried their hand at inventing spectacle-mounted opera glasses, or as Aitchison put it so delicately, 'Apparatus for attaching optical instruments to heads'. Some of these designs bear a superficial resemblance to low vision aids of the twentieth century.

The example illustrated was by Matthew Moneyment in Twentieth century theatre glasses were usually of cheap plastic. Whilst playgoers could buy their own it was more usual to hire them from a dispensing unit on the back of the seat in front. The first picture shows a pair of 'Tivoli'' opera glasses by the well-known firm of Kershaw.

No During the hiring firm's last financial year 1, pairs were missed. Twenty five pounds reward is now offered for the apprehension of any one in unlawful possession of these opera glasses. In the twentieth century 'skeleton' pairs were also popular on account of their light weight and portability. We show a pair of folding opera glasses in nickel silver? The objective lenses screw in, whilst the eyepieces have eye-shaped cups - a thoughtful touch.

This is a French example, marked 'Archimede'. Oval eyes compensated in part for the limited visual field provided by round opera glasses. They were also better for users with a wide inter-pupillary distance since, unlike field glasses, very few antique opera glasses had folding bridges adjustable for p. The oval-eyed opera glasses pictured with ivory barrels date from the early 20th century and bear the name of H.

We also reproduce an advertisement from for the Playgoer theatre glasses supplied by Britex Scientific Instruments Ltd, where it would appear that adjustable p. You may click on the advert to enlarge it. Opera glasses have influenced the design of many other common objects for instance this inkwell, of uncertain age but already in our collection by and the cruet set, a tourist souvenir from the French resort of Nice, though made in Germany!

A charming set of kiln-fired enamel opera glasses with the extending lorgnette handle dating to the Napoleon III era (Victorian) c. , French. In the meantime, here's a list of mother of pearl opera glasses sold on eBay in the last few Both the glasses and the case look so much like LeMaire of Paris.

Share best practices, tips, and insights. Meet other eBay community members who share your passions. When i bought these glasses, thought they were a bit more rare then they actually are No brands or marks present. Looks to be made of mother of pearl and brass, can some confirm it?

These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.

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Birds through an opera-glass

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This invention relates to improvements in lorgnette opera glasses, and has for its object the production of opera glasses designed to be folded up in a small compass, convenient for carrying in a handle casing in lorgnette form. With this end in view, my invention consists in certain novelties of construction and arrangement of parts, as hereinafter set forth and pointed out in the claims.

El objetivo fue detectar las causas que llevan con ms frecuencia a galilean binoculars, trivia, would. Goers seated in williamsburg, but the case - auction.

Opera glasses

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This online exhibition is about a particular kind of binocular instrument with very simple optics. Opera glasses preceded field binoculars in date and they form a collecting category in their own right. Let's start theatrically In the 18th and 19th centuries there was much excitement going on at the theatre, opera house or music hall A print and a drawing in the museum's collection both seen in the image gallery above together give an indication of the activity within the auditorium. The drama of the scene is confined to the audience; the stage is only just visible through the curtain.

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Fulfillment by Amazon FBA is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you grow your business. Learn more about the program. Please make sure that you are posting in the form of a question. Stylish and modern opera glasses Magnification:

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