Armless 'pince-nez' spectacles, 17th century.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm

Armless 'pince-nez' spectacles, 17th century.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


These pince-nez armless spectacles have frames made of animal horn. They appear identical to a pair of spectacles shown on the trade card of c 1675 of the London optical instrument maker John Yarwell. Emerging in Europe during the medieval period, spectacles were first made to rest on the wearer's nose. However, by the 1720s these were challenged by newer designs. Known as temple or wig spectacles, these had arms fitted with rings that enabled them to be pressed against the temple above the ear or secured under a wig.

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