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Lorgnettes, Bologna, Italy, 1857

The upper and middle classes in the 1800s favoured lorgnettes. These spectacles distinguished the wearer from cheaper, plainer designs. Lorgnettes are designed to be handheld. These are ornately carved from ivory. Ivory was expensive. Such a high level of craftsmanship indicates a wealthy owner. Only the wealthy could afford custom-made glasses. The lenses fold in half at the nose bridge and then slot into the handle. They are kept in place with a catch. The case has a carved fish design with a mother of pearl centre. The case lid snaps shut and is kept in place by a catch. The size and delicate decoration of the spectacles indicate a female owner. Printed inside the case are the maker’s name, Ernesto, and his place of work, Bologna, Italy.

Object number:

A682155

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Glossary:

Glossary: ophthalmology

The branch of medicine dealing with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways (usually the eyes or the brain).

Glossary: spectacles

Pair of eyeglasses to compensate for defective vision or to protect the eyes from light, dust, and the like. Kept in place by sidepieces passing over the ears, on the nose or held in the hand.

Glossary: optometry

The professional practice of eye and vision care. Optometry includes the correction of visual defects with lenses or glasses.

Glossary: lorgnettes

A type of spectacles usually hand held with a long ornate handle.