Optical Treasures: Missing-Disappeared

The teamwork involved in the development of this website has uncovered significant information related to a wide variety of optical objects. It is apparent that a sizable group of important items are (A) MISSING because (1) they were stolen or, more commonly, (2) they have disappeared over the years and have not yet been located.

It is a shame that certain treasures cannot be held again, evaluated, and better appreciated (in person) by individuals from around the world who have great interest in antique vision aids. By listing them here, and in many instances presenting their appearance, one or more of these special items may resurface once again. It would be thrilling if even one of the vision aids mentioned below is recovered. That would certainly be wonderful and would make the effort of constructing this first page worth the effort. So if anyone knows anything regarding the whereabouts of any of these objects please notify drdavid@antiquespectacles.com.

Title Description Photo Comments
Benjamin Franklin bifocals Benjamin Franklin split-lens bifocals from the famous 1785 Peale painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin, Charles Wilson Peale, 1785-1787, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia This is the only depiction of him wearing the bifocals he devised

Dudley Adams patent spectacles Thorowgood Smith, wearing Adam’s patent spectacles in the painting at city hall in Baltimore, MD Thorowgood Smith, anonymous, circa 1808, City of Baltimore These are quite unusual
Nathaniel Rochester eyeglasses Colonel Nathaniel Rochester wearing X bridge 4 lens spectacles from the famous 1824 John James Audubon painting at the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Nathaniel Rochester, John James Audubon, 1823, Memorial Art Gallery Several curators in that area of the country have been searching for these
Pope Leon X myopic lens Pope Leon X holds a myopic lens in the famous 1518 Raphael painting and also in the Art Resource drawing from the Louvre, Paris. Pope Leo X with two Cardinals, Raphael, 1518
Portrait of Pope Leon X, Chimenti Jacopo, Musee de Louvre, circ 1600, courtesy of Art Resource
On display in Florence, this is NOT the Leo X myopic lens
A myopic lens was seen in Florence in a display case at the Museum of the History of Science but it has been confirmed that this is not the myopic lens of Pope Leo X
Sojourner Truth eyeglasses Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), whose name was actually Isabella Baumfree, was an African-American abolitionist, Civil War nurse, and suffragette, who worked on freeing slaves. She was famous also for attending the Woman’s convention 1851. “Ain’t I a woman” was one of her most famous statements. Wearing octagonal spectacles. Sojouner Truth, photograph, Albany Institute of History and Art (original in the Library of Congress) Unable to locate
Aaron Burr spectacles Aaron Burr (1756-1836) wearing spectacles up on his forehead in the painting by James Van Dyck at the New York Historical Society Aaron Burr, James Van Dyck, 1834, NY Historical Society unable to track this down. Note also the photo from Spinning Wheel magazine (it is a different style)
Francisco de Quevedo eyeglasses Francisco de Quevedo painting, copy of a lost work by Velazquez, in Madrid, described in a 19th century book about the painter’s life, from the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Texas Francisco de Quevedo, copy of a lost work by Velazquez, Madrid, Meadows Museum, SMU This information was supplied by the Senior Curator
Heymann case collection


The Madame Heymann collection of carved eyeglasses cases was displayed in a black and white photo in the article regarding spectacles highlighted in the 1915 Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology. (Note individual pictures from her very rare 1911 book). This fabulous group of cases was considered to be the finest collection in the world at that time.

Madame Heymann’s eyeglass case collection, 1915 American Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology
Three cases, from the Heyman book, 1911
Three additional cases, from the Heyman book, 1911
Two cases, from the Heyman book, 1911
Five cases, from the Heyman book, 1911
Four cases, from the Heyman book, 1911


Most likely they were all destroyed sometime between World War I and World War II

Camillo Cavour spectacles Camillo Cavour (1810-1861) was a highly regarded and world-renowned Italian statesman. He was cofounder of the newspaper “Il Risorgimento” which gave its name to the movement for Italian unity. 1852 Prime Minister of Piemont-Sardinia; 1860/61 instrumental in the unification of Italy. Count Camillo Cavour, Italian Statesman, courtesy of Art Resource Apparently these significant eyeglasses do exist at the Luxottica Museum, Agordo in the mountains of Northern Italy. Hoping for a photo of the eyeglasses eventually.
Peter Ranier spectacles Admiral Peter Ranier, after whom Mount Ranier in Washington State is named, wore this pair for a sitting for this painting by Arthur William Devis, c. 1805. Admiral Peter Ranier, by Devis (1741-1808), British Optical Association Museum Does anyone have knowledge regarding the whereabouts of these eyeglasses? They are gold-plated or perhaps even solid gold by appearance?
Ernst Abbe eyeglasses Dr. Ernst Abbe (1840-1905) wearing wire spectacles in this photograph and also on this medal Dr. Ernst Abbe, renowned physicist, signed 1899 cabinet photograph
Medallion honoring Ernst Abbe
Where are these spectacles now? They are not in the collection at the Optisches Museum, Jena
Anthony Trollope Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), British novelist (wrote nearly 50 books), romanticist and moralist Anthony Trollope from the Wikipedia website Anthony Trollope, from a Barnes & Noble mural, Gary Kelley, illustrator unable to locate so far
Peter Cooper eyeglasses Peter Cooper (1791-1883) wearing gold 4 lens octagonal frame spectacles. He was an American inventor, industrialist and philanthropist. Portrait painting of Peter Cooper, New York Historical Society An unusual style of eyeglasses
Andrew Jackson eyeglasses President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) apparently wore 4 lens spectacles for many years? Notice these two paintings. President Andrew Jackson, painting by Philip Hewins, 1833, Connecticut Historical Society
Andrew Jackson, painted by Edward Dalton Merchant, 1839, Union League of Philadelphia
Andrew Jackson, probably from a painting by Trevor Thomas Fowler, circa 1840
This pair has been missing for years and are presumed lost
Daniel Wadsworth eyeglasses Daniel Wadsworth (1771-1848) founder of the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Connecticut n 1844. Daniel Wadsworth Esq., silhouette, courtesy of the Connecticut historical Society Authorities there are unaware of the existence of his spectacles.
Louis Pasteur eyeglasses Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur, Founder of Modern Medicine
Louis Pasteur, diploma bestowed by the town of Dole, subscription for the Pasteur monument, A. Lormet, 19th century
Louis Pasteur, standing, holding eyeglasses, with chemical apparatus and books. Chromolithograph, published by F. Alglave,Raismes (Nord, France, circa 1890, printed by Courbe-Rouzet)(Dole and Paris), Iconographic Collection of the Wellcome Library, London, ICV No51428  Wellcome Images Medical Photographic Library
Unable to locate so far
John Philip Souza eyeglasses John Philip Souza (1854-1932), American composer, conductor, and patriot, wearing pince nez John Philip Souza
Sheet music: The Liberty Bell March
unable to locate
John Jacob Bausch eyeglasses John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, were co-founders of the Bausch and Lomb Optical Company John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, medal honoring the 75th year anniversary of the Bausch & Lomb Optical Company, 1853-1928 unknown
Lyman Beecher eyeglasses Lyman Beecher (1775-1863), preacher, and father of Harriet Beecher Stowe Lyman Beecher, print, removed from a book, signed engraving by J.B. Longacre from a painting by C. Harding, "National Preacher, 1845”,  Litchfield Historical Society unknown
Hitler eyeglasses


Adoph Hitler (1889-1945), Chancellor of Germany from 1933 and Fuhrer and Reichkanzler from 1934, Leader of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) There are only a few different known photos of him wearing spectacles..

Adolph Hitler wearing eyeglasses from the Axis History Forum website


Hitler did not want to be photographed wearing eyeglasses because he felt that a dictator wearing spectacles would lose authority. They were probably destroyed in his bunker in 1945 and are most likely gone forever.

Chardin spectacles Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779), one of the greatest French Rococo Era painters of the 18th century, whose genre and still life subjects documented the life of the Paris bourgeoisie. The three paintings (all self portraits) at the Louvre show two of the styles of spectacles used during those times. Rococo Art succeeded Baroque Art in Europe. It was most popular in France, and is generally associated with the reign of King Louis XV (1715-1774). Jean-Baptiste-Siméon,  Chardin self-portrait, 1771, the Pierre Marly book (The paintings are all at the Louvre) Unable to locate either pair of these spectacles.
Large magnifier with an amber lens


Staatliche Museen Kassel, Germany had a very rare magnifier with a dark red amber lens described by Prof. R.Greeffin 1921. It had a power +8 diopters with a diameter of 50mm, date circa 1740-50

(no picture)


The lens apparently did not survive the bombings of October 23, 1943.

Rembrandt Peale’s gold glasses in his self-portraits Rembrandt Peale’s gold glasses – circa 1840-45. Spectacles appear on his face in several different paintings. Oval frame (at the Mead Museum) octagonal frame (at the Maryland Historical Society) and rectangular frame (in a private collection) have now been recognized. (in process) Whereabouts of these three pair??
Amber Magnifier glasses Museum Gothisches Haus", Worlitz Germany .   In World War II the Collection was lost. Nobody seems to know anything about the "Amber Collection".
A BIT OF GOOD NEWS TO REPORT Late 16th century leather framed spectacles found by the Messrs. Boston Divers Limited (now defunct) and displayed at the Boston Guildhall Museum in 1985. These had been photographed in the 1980’s and were pursued actively by yours truly over a year ago. Their whereabouts had been unknown for the interval years. Also described in this small collection, which was on loan, was an 18th century red wooden spectacles case (no photo). Leather framed spectacles, late 16th century The Leather spectacles surfaced earlier this year in a Christies Sale in South Kensington. Sold to a happy collector, they now have found a good home. The red wooden spectacles case described above is still missing.

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