World Class Objects in the Madame Heymann Collection- THE KEY CHART

For this chart the selection includes what I believe to be the very finest examples from the Heymann Collection. The process was not easy and other people may have chosen different examples. Perhaps some collectors would want to include every single carved case. There appears to be important symbolism on both the front and reverse of many of the cases below, especially those with a religious theme.

From the 1900 publication associated with the Musee Carnavalet one learns that Madame Heymann had a significant number of fans, optical charms, early opera glasses, and also tobacco containers in her collection. Yet the majority of these are still missing. Realize that just one optical fan or just one tobacco container with a spyglass would be treasured by any curator or advanced collector. Maybe some of the missing objects could have been added to this chart.

These antiques deserve to be considered amongst the most outstanding optical treasures in existence….the BEST of the BEST, in my opinion. Try to imagine what Madame Heymann must have felt as she held each one of these in her own hands perhaps 100 years ago.

You are welcome to send an email in order to share knowledge if you can assist with the descriptions below. Please write to  Thank you. Learn and also enjoy all the photos.

(All images on this page courtesy Jean-Marie Devriendt, copyright © 2008)

"E" Refers to Musée National de la Renaissance, Le Chateau d'Ecouen
"Cl" Refers to Musée de Cluny

(Move your mouse over any of the pictures below to see a larger image.)







eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.030 dated "1558" on the top carved wood, oblong shape, brass hinges, birds and flowers and people are shown, glasses look like silver, frame is an unusual form with lateral slots for lens insertion.

The spectacles may not be original; instead with soldering and also what looks like screws the glasses may be from early 1700s.

There are symbols (weapons) of a Cardinal so the front and the back, require further study.

Two people are depicted on the front while on the back a man is holding open the mouth of a lion

This is the oldest case in the world that has an actual date on it.
eyeglass case and two Masterpieces E Cl 21.028 dated "1687"

Inside is a paper written in French by Heymann which translates the German written on the outside front. This includes (A) name of the maker, (B) date when he became master, and (C) the master spectacles makers who judged him.
oval shaped wooden case, motif: decorated with flourets (composite of ornamental flowers), Germany, for two Masterpiece spectacles, highly decorative frames (one is red horn and the other is black horn), original lenses 

Only one other known Masterpiece spectacles case has this oval appearance with floral carvings. It was in Richard Greff’s Collection which was donated to the Zeiss Museum. In this instance of the Heymann Collection the new master’s name is Hans Bieedermund Hammer. His work was completed September 1, 1687 and the two masters who judged the work were Paulus Prachtel and Hans Christoff Grinder. This is the translation of that front cover.  
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.049 probably 17th century carved wood in almost the shape of a figure of eight, for a single pair of Nuremberg single wire spectacles

Front: perhaps a small woman in a dress between the larger profiles of a man and a woman.

Back: a cross between two horned deer.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.077 18th century wooden case, Italian, the front carving refers to “Il Solimano”, a play written in 1619 by Bonarelli, represented in Venice, and done as a tribute to Grand Duke Cosimo II

The subject was a tragedy and it was taken from the history of the Musulman.  This play centeredon the intrigues of the Ottoman Court of Suleiman 1 the Magnificent (1494-1566).
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.072 19th century carved wooden pull-off case with white metal trim, has blue-tinted spectacles made of white metal, rectangular frame, crank bridge and sliding sides, paper label says “Duca di San Marco Capece Zurlo”.                                     

Certainly unique.

Front: instruments of The Passion and also the "Last Supper".

Back: shows “The Flight into Egypt” and also other important religious symbols.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.025 end of 17th century This case must be looked upon as a two-sided printing block, Italy, brass hardware, engraved wood was perhaps used as an ex libris. Built for two pair of spectacles although only one pair with leather-frames and a steel arched nose bridge is present         

Front: in the middle: Cupid is stepping on a peacock’s tail, with the words just above “I hate pride”. Above that: Satyrs with goat feet and butterfly wings, holding a basket, with a dove falling down on it. Below: two nymphs with butterfly wings.

Back: in the middle: 'l'amour' (love) holds a burning torch, the text above says 'CAJ VI TORNA SI ASSE INDE : 'who turns around will burn'. Above that: two mermaids hold the fantasy crown of a marquis. Below: two cherubs play the flute.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.031 turn of the 17th century sculpted wooden case, exquisite carvings, brass hardware, leather- framed eyeglasses with a grooved bridge (cut from one piece of leather), one cracked lens.

Front: Cupid with a bow and arrow in the forest near a large trunked tree with clumps of hanging berries. His face is looking away from the other side of the tree where a naked woman (is this Eve in paradise?) with an elaborate flowing headdress is sleeping. His arrow is pointed towards her.

Back: shows more of the forest with plants and flowers. A small owl is in the center and two very long-beaked birds are hanging upside down on either side with a two other smaller birds in the scene.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.024 17th century Carved wooden case, inside: two musical angels are lso seen, for two pair of glasses but only one pair of green-tinted wire nose spectacles exists,  probably Flanders region of Belgium                                              

Truly extraordinary – especially unique

Front: Crucifixion of Christ and also Mary Magdalene with small Jerusalem buildings in the background.

Back: Virgin and Child surrounded by three others with four winged angels.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles (two pair) E Cl 21.032 turn of the 17th century Mostly oval wooden case, carved with much decoration front and back,  for two pair of wire spectacles, one with “London” etched onto both lenses.                                             

Front: two saints - one on the left is holding a cross while the one on the right holds flowers, surrounded by other flowers and birds.

Back: Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, surrounded by four angels, birds, and flowers and ropes, stippled surface both front and back even with a border
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.029 17th century Sculpted boxwood, open case, decorated,  France, for one pair of baleen spectacles                                          

Extremely fancy and wonderful

Front: grotesque mask with birds on the side, clump of berries hanging in front of each birds.

Back: perhaps a unicorn with a star above and serpents on either side.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.055 early 18th century Sculpted wooden case, the carvings tell the story of Hubert (656-728) who became a Saint. Front: Hubert went on a hunt and as he was kneeling the stag turned showing a crucifix on the top of its head. Notice the trees, birds, 2 dogs, and a horse. For not killing the stag Hubert first became a priest and later a saint which is depicted on the reverse.  Made for hallmarked heavy silver-framed spectacles, some damage is noted where the wood is cracked in two places near the hinges                                                   

Incredible carving

St. Hubert was born into a wealthy family and as a youth he was caught up in a life of adventure and pleasure. His chief passion was that of the chase. According to legend, one Good Friday when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert set out on the hunt. He was pursuing a magnificent stag. When the stag stopped and turned its head toward him, Hubert saw a crucifix between its antlers. This apparition was the beginning of a conversion experience, which led Hubert to give up his worldly pursuits and goods, become a priest, and eventually the first Bishop of Liege, Belgium. St. Hubert was honored in the Middle Ages as the patron of huntsmen. Today he is the patron saint of all animals. His feast day is November 3rd.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles (two pair) E Cl 21.047 16th century per the Heymann book Spectacle case made of iron, engraved with bands of Arabesque. An ornamental band of scrolled vine leaves all around. A pheasant on the one side and a monster on the other along with scrolled ornamentation including flowers. Flip-top lid with a band on both sides, one says “made in Parma, Italy” while on the other side “Gio Maria Covalel”, inside there is a space for two spectacles.  

Provenance : Collection of Henri Le Sesq of the Tournelles (1854-1925).

The Museum The Secq of the Tournelles was founded in 1920.  It occupies the church Saint Lawrence (XVe and XVIe centuries) to Rouen. It contains an ironworks collection bequeathed by Henri The Secq of the Tournelles (1854-1925) and that had been begun in 1862 by his father Henri The Secq. 

Since the case was thought to be 16th century, the glasses can not be original, since they are Nuremberg single wire probably 17.17th century
eyeglass case and nose spectacles (two pair) E Cl 21.026 17th century Carved ivory case for two pairs of wire-nose spectacles, designed in the form of a book with sundials showing Italian hours on the front and back covers, possibly made in Nuremberg.        

Incredibly rare, one of only two known with sundials on the front and back.

This object was noted on the RMN website which also led to the collection in storage at the Chateau.

eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.052 17th century eyeglasses box, made of turned ivory, with six (actually seven) medallions, for one pair of wire spectacles            
Incredibly rare
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.056 17th century carved eyeglasses case, white ivory, flower carvings the same front and back, for a pair of heavy silver nose spectacles with unusual oblique lens insertion        
Incredibly rare
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.073 perhaps early 18th century solid silver eyeglass case, shaped like a figure of eight, engraved castle and trees on the front, perhaps a back entry is shown on the reverse, (could this instead be some small town?), possibly Dutch-made, for heavy silver nose spectacles with an unusual vertically wide nosebridge

eyeglass case and collapsing nose spectacles (two pair) E Cl 21.092  18th century small round case with pattern of tiny silver studs, dark tortoiseshell, for two round frame silver collapsing nose spectacles at least one hallmark (needs identification), probably original lenses (interesting that they differ in appearance where the nosebridge meets the round frame).                                      
Incredibly rare, one of only two known

Provenance: used by Giovanni Antonio Galignani (1757–1821), Italian newspaper publisher born at Brescia. After living some time in London, he went to Paris, where he started in 1800 an English library, and in 1808 a monthly publication, the Repertory of English Literature. In 1814 he began to publish, in Paris, Galignani's Messenger, a daily paper printed in English. At his death in 1821 the paper was carried on by his two sons, John Anthony (1796–1873) and William (1798–1882). Under their management it enjoyed a high reputation. Its policy was to promote good feeling between England and France. The brothers established and endowed hospitals at Corbeil and at Neuilly-sur-Seine. In recognition of their generosity the city of Corbeil erected a monument in their honor. In 1884 the Galignani family disposed of their interest in Galignani's Messenger, and from that date until 1904, when it was discontinued, the paper appeared under the title of the Daily Messenger.
eyeglass case E Cl 21.064 16 - 17th century per Madame Heymann iron eyeglass case, one side shows a large crown while the other is plain, no glasses are enclosed This is identified by Heymann as the crown of the Archbishop of Besançon (Roman Catholic)

Also came ot Madame Heymann from the Secq des Tournelles Collection
eyeglass case with rivet spectacles E Cl 21.023 16th century "belt-case" made of leather with embossed (fleur-de-lis) designs, from the time of King of France Henry IV (1553-1610), pull off top is attached by cords with tassels which travel through moderately long channels on the sides of the upper and lower portions. This houses round horn-framed rivet spectacles, which had been displayed “in the Science cabinet” of a room from the Middle Ages.      

One of only two known rivet spectacles with a horn frame these appear to be old to the naked eye. Pierre Marly of Paris examined the frames in the past and thought they were likely reproductions. Microscopic evaluation of the intact glass lenses in October 2010 has confirmed his impression. The glasses are unfortunately NOT 400 years old. But the case is very early and it is original.
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.066 circa 1700 eyeglass case shaped mostly like a figure of eight, solid silver decorated with scrolls and what may be plants. In the upper middle is a weaved basket, and the flowers are made of inlaid mother of pearl, for silver nose spectacles with a very high and wide arch                                          Quite attractive and unique
eyeglass case and nose spectacles E Cl 21.022 dated "1580" “belt-case” because it was made to hang from the waist, bronze, the front side represents on the lowest part "1580", above that is the Judgment of Paris (not the town), above which is the text "trust in God".   Above that is a skull, ornaments and leaves, also two horns and two faces. The other side is engraved with Christ on a cross, in a medallion of leaves and flowers, and finally above that is more flowers with a shield with the letters DF. Inside are wire nose spectacles. Notice the chords that hold the top and bottom together via little tubes on the side.  Some back damage near the top in two areas.   
2nd earliest dated case in the world –  the glasses are not original to the case because this style was not in production in Germany until the mid 17th century. Most likely a pair of bow spectacles in horn or even leather spectacles were the original pair.

Still this is a very interesting object. The Judgement of Paris is from Greek Mythology, one of the events that led up to the Trojan War and to the foundation of Rome. This case was on the bottom of the River Seine and was dug up in 1858 by Arthur Forgeais. It was then given to Mr Le secq des Cournelles (1818-1882), painter printmaker, photographer, and collector. From there it went to his son Henri le Secq des Cournelles. Then it came into the possession of Mme Heymann.
16th century jeton Cl 21.095 16th century French jeton, front and back views show the Seal of he eyeglass craftsmen, made of copper alloy, about 26 mm diameter, Musee national du Moyen Age - Thermes de Cluny, Paris, France   Photo credit: Jean-Gilles Berizzi of Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY

Originating in France, jetons, or rechenpfennigs in German, were originally used for accounting purposes on a board. Later they were also used in games and acquired the value of chits.

One of the only two known examples of this French variety in the world. Notice a pair of rivet spectacles on one side and a pair of rivet spectacles in alternating fields on the other side. This is not the only type of French jeton. There are hundreds known and there is even a second type depicting spectacles (on a coat of arms on the reverse) that is pictured in the book Les Besicles De Nos Ancetres. Sixteenth century German rechenpfennigs depicting spectacles are called jetons as well and they are more common.  
tobacco containers with a lorgnette (spyglass) mostly every single one from the Heymann Collection  is still missing 18/19th century two of these have been seen at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Knowing the appearance of the two at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, one can only imagine the extraordinary beauty of the nearly a dozen that are still missing
optical fans mostly every single one from the Heymann Collection is still missing late 18th - early 19th century two of these have been seen at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Heymann announced in her 1900 publication that she had over three dozen fans in all. So where are all of these at this time?

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