The British Optical Association Museum

Copper and brass alloy case for folding nose spectacles. Originally gilded. Flip top. Decoratively embossed with crude classical figures. Green lining. French, Louis Quinze (1715-1774) period, probably circa 1730. See Heymann 'de Jadis' for a near identical item. Quite unusual.
Copper and brass alloy case for folding nose spectacles. Originally gilded. Flip top. Decoratively embossed with crude classical figures. Green lining. French, Louis Quinze (1715-1774) period, probably circa 1730. See Heymannn 'de Jadis' for a near identical item. Quite unusual.
Reversible, non-folding, double spectacles with steel frame. Connected at centre of bridge (forming an X-bridge) and at joints. Thin straight sides. Oval eyes. Glazed for distance and near vision. c.1870?
Reversible, non-folding, double spectacles with steel frame. Connected at centre of bridge (forming an X-bridge) and at joints. Thin straight sides. Oval eyes. Glazed for distance and near vision. c.1870?
Two folding magnifiers with tortoiseshell cases featuring carved decorative surfaces and silver mounts. c.1800.
Two folding magnifiers with tortoiseshell cases featuring carved decorative surfaces and silver mounts. c.1800.
Large magnifier/reading glass. Horn frame. (split badly on one side). Trefoil handle. Oval lens, 13 cm diameter. c.1730-1750
Large magnifier/reading glass. Horn frame. (split badly on one side). Trefoil handle. Oval lens, 13 cm diameter. c.1730-1750.
Silver spectacles case with Mother-of-Pearl lid and base. Side opening. Hinged lid decorated with relief carving depicting Roman military generals and musicians. c.1810.
Silver spectacles case with Mother-of-Pearl lid and base. Side opening. Hinged lid decorated with relief carving depicting Roman military generals and musicians. c.1810.

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Slide Show of Michael Lebby Wearing BOA Museum: Modern Spectacles

Slide Show of Michael Lebby Wearing BOA Museum: Antique Spectacles

Slide Show of Michael Lebby Wearing BOA Museum: Scissors Spectacles

Slide Show of Michael Lebby Wearing the BOA Museum: Optical Fans

Slide Show of Michael Lebby Wearing the BOA Museum: Lorgnettes

The British Optical Association Museum in London has the largest known repository of optical objects in the world. Their collection is wonderful in all respects because it is both broad and deep with many historic beautiful optical treasures. Numerous rare and unique objects can be seen there. The British Optical Association (BOA) was founded in 1895. John Hamer Sutcliffe, one of the “Distinguished Persons” to whom our website is dedicated, became their first secretary and in 1901 he established the library and also the actual museum. It was first opened to the public in 1914 but existed as a study collection before then. Therefore this museum can boast the title of the “oldest optical museum in the world”.

We have also been very fortunate to have Michael Lebby’s complete support and cooperation for this online project. Michael has a unique ability to match a facial expression to complement and capture the soul of every pair of spectacles he wears. In addition curator Neil Handley kindly granted permission for a few photographic sessions which led to the delightful slideshows below. Finally, Michael’s uncle (with similar name, and based in London, England) contributed his time and professional camera skills to capture each of the images on the slideshows below

Many of the actual vision aids that Michael wears are currently on display at the BOA Museum. Because of their huge collection, I encourage visitors to first go through all the images below and pay close attention to the particular description and dating of each object. This technique should be a useful learning experience for collectors and curators alike. If you are novice just starting to become fascinated with optical objects there is a wealth of visual and written material available to you below. Then if you should also visit London in person and have some available time, call the Museum and schedule an appointment. I guarantee you an extremely worthwhile “eye-opening” experience.

The website of the BOA Museum also is truly remarkable and much information is available on a very wide range of topics. To learn more about the illustrious history of this world-class institution and also to learn more about some of their many treasures visit their website. Their MusEYEum has certainly become one of the most authoritative sources of ophthalmic historical information anywhere on the web.

http://www.college-optometrists.org/museum

Also check out their online catalog at: www.museyeum.org

Everyone involved with the antiquespectacles.com website appreciates Neil Handley and the rest of the staff of the BOA Museum. The slideshows above are just one result of our expanding collaboration. Additional slideshows are being developed and they will be added in the future for everyone’s interest and enjoyment. Stay tuned for additional slide shows in the future.


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