Introduction & News

John George Brown (1831-1913), Scraping a Deerskin, 1904,     Courtesy of the Huntington Art Collections, San Marino, CA
John George Brown (1831-1913), Scraping a Deerskin, 1904, Courtesy of the Huntington Art Collections, San Marino, CA
Glass goblet regarding the “Old Man's Home” in Amsterdam, Dutch and English lead glass with Dutch engravings, 17 cm high with 7.4 cm bowl diameter, circa 1754-57. The funnel-shaped bowl has an engraving of a crowned double coat of arms in which one can see the city coat of arms of Amsterdam and also a pair of glasses, the symbol of the old men- and old women hospice. In 1601 the Old men and Old women Hospice (almshouse) for the elderly was established on this place which still is called the Oudemanhuispoort. A pair of nose spectacles is represented on the front and back of the distinctive cement-covered gateway. The current building was built in the 1750s and it has been the seat of The Amsterdam University since 1876. Schwarze Kabinett der Galerie in der Stallburg, Ferdinand Astorffer. (It is like the front cover of an inventory book)
Glass goblet regarding the “Old Man's Home” in Amsterdam, Dutch and English lead glass with Dutch engravings, 17 cm high with 7.4 cm bowl diameter, circa 1754-57. The funnel-shaped bowl has an engraving of a crowned double coat of arms in which one can see the city coat of arms of Amsterdam and also a pair of glasses, the symbol of the old men- and old women hospice. In 1601 the Old men and Old women Hospice (almshouse) for the elderly was established on this place which still is called the Oudemanhuispoort. A pair of nose spectacles is represented on the front and back of the distinctive cement-covered gateway. The current building was built in the 1750s and it has been the seat of The Amsterdam University since 1876.
Spanish Inquistion print, Felipe Gonzales Rojas editor, late 18th century, Museo Lara Collection, Ronda, Spain
, Spanish Inquistion print, Felipe Gonzales Rojas editor, late 18th century, Museo Lara Collection, Ronda, Spain
Opera glasses in chased aluminum, circa 1890 – 1910, Collection Jean Plateau, Musee des arts et Metier, Cnam, Paris
Opera glasses in chased aluminum, circa 1890 – 1910, Collection Jean Plateau, Musee des arts et Metier, Cnam, Paris  
D. Enrique Bejarano, Director of a Jewish Spanish school in Bucharest and the first Sephardic academic of the Spanish Language Academy, courtesy of the Museo Sefardi, Toledo, Spain
D. Enrique Bejarano, Director of a Jewish Spanish school in Bucharest and the first Sephardic academic of the Spanish Language Academy, courtesy of the Museo Sefardi, Toledo, Spain

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Every Antique Vision Aid is interesting in its development, useful in its function, and beautiful to behold. A passion for them can evolve because each one has a fascinating history that went into its making. This website, with all its information and images, should help nurture a deeper appreciation for antique spectacles as well as other vision aids. What you are about to visit is the result of an international educational group effort, created by individuals who believe that Vision Aids deserve greater recognition. This will be presented in an informative, interactive, and very visual way. Since ours is not a commercial website, nothing will be bought or sold and nowhere will monetary values be given.

Any history buffs reading this? Are there any who love art? Each of you could become absorbed in this website. What are displayed here are small pieces of "functional art" which are also “gold mines” of history. Antique spectacles, one of the major vision aids of their time (there were also magnifying glasses, water lenses, telescopes, and others.), have had an incalculable impact on mankind. Billions and billions of people have been empowered by the gift of clearer vision. Antique spectacles paved the way, and they deserve more respect and wider acknowledgement.

Each item displayed is so much more than a single item resting on a shelf, or a scarcer one protected by a glass covered display box, or even the rarest object which might sit in a locked vault or an alarmed glass enclosure at a Public Institution. And how about antique spectacles or other vision aids yet to be found? How many unidentified items are currently hidden away in a drawer or closet somewhere? How many might be resting some place totally unnoticed and therefore completely unappreciated? This site will provide you with the background you need to find them and make discoveries about each one.

This site will provide a concise Developmental History of Spectacles as well as explain all the contributions of people from many nations who were important along the way. As an American, I felt pride as I learned about the McAllister family. Many individuals from England played vital roles, as well as people from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and other significant nations. In time, this website, along with other worthwhile websites on the same topic, will “open people’s eyes” all over the world to the true value of Antique Vision Aids, and will give future generations insight into reasons to collect and cherish these vision aids. This will help to enrich everyone’s overall view of them.

As a retired ophthalmologist, with a deep respect for visual health, I want to tell you of the two Collectors Clubs whose activities I admire. Members of these two groups (I belong to both) share many of the notable qualities exhibited by the pioneers of antique spectacles research who are mentioned in the Honor Roll of Distinguished Persons to whom this website is dedicated.

Many other knowledgeable people have actively participated in the planning and development of this website. Their input and helpful advice have made the content up-to-date and as accurate as possible. I have acknowledged these individuals on the Individual Contributors page, where the list keeps growing. It could not have been accomplished without their worthwhile contributions and ongoing guidance. There is also a Participating Institutions page (which also keeps growing) of those which are recognized for their generous participation. But this entire endeavor is definitely a "work in progress". If you have ideas or information that you believe would add to the range, depth, or quality of this website, please contact me. This website will provide the space and forum where suggestions can be floated and ideas can be discussed. If you have images of some item(s) you wish to share with others, you are encouraged to make this contribution. This has been and will always remain a group effort (a community) and an evolving project to which each and every visitor is invited to participate and take an active role. Also, kindly tell friends about us so others may enjoy the benefits of this website too.

Our site will not remain fixed. Certain images will be replaced occasionally because we want to share other special images we have in our files. Amazing historical objects are surfacing now from all over the world and these will be shared – just visit the top of Collections, Virtual Museum, Eyeglasses Through the Ages to see some unusual examples on the turning pages of a book” (These special images will eventually appear on the website with detailed descriptions.)

We now maintain a Newsworthy page including an annual list of both New Publications and also Exhibits in this field. If you are writing a book or publishing an article please let us know and we will announce your book or your writings ahead of time so others will know. If you plan to have part of a collection exhibited or on display for the public to see, kindly inform us and it will be publicized here.

So come back and visit us again and again. The most recent additions to the website will be located at the What's New at www.antiquespectacles.com page. And if you are a teacher, student, or someone who might wish to have some challenging fun, go to the Educational Games page and just enjoy yourself.

In ending this Introduction, if you want to see and learn more about ANTIQUE SPECTACLES and OTHER VISION AIDS, you’ve come to the right place. Please watch for Interesting Topics, Slide Shows  and Movies that will be added-on in the future. Thank you for reading this page for it explains what our website is all about.

Sincerely,
Dr. David Fleishman

(This page has been translated into Romanian by Alexander Ovsov. Click here to see his translation.)
(This page has been translated into Swedish by Daniela Milton. Click here to see this translation.)
(This page has been translated into Hungarian by Szabolcs Csintalan. Click here to see this translation.)
(This page has been translated into Ukranian by Artur Weber. Click here to see this translstion.)

MEMORIAL DEDICATION

Both of my elderly parents passed away over ten years ago. They were wonderful, loving, nurturing individuals who were dedicated to the education of their four sons. This website is an opportunity for me to honor my parents, Muriel and Robert Fleishman, for their strong belief that we are charged with the responsibility to pass on education and history to our children and to future generations.


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