Wishing the readers of the Renaissance a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Remember Madame X, the pince-nez wearer featured in our September 2013 post? She was kind enough to send the following message to the Renaissance:
"Just wanted to share a few pince-nez links I stumbled across recently.
First,if you're willing to travel to the Czech Republic for fittings and have
a spare couple thousand euros to spend, a place that does custom made,
modern mountings in gold apparently exists: Tomáš Říha.
They're so gorgeous that even though they're unaffordable, the gallery is certainly worth gazing at.
Second, for laughs and a look at pince nez in action in film see the Big Sleep. She looks amazing in them - large lenses and all; too bad Bogie has to go ahead and ruin it. Oh well; goes to show you, even with minimal eyewear, Parker's adage holds true (at least in fiction)."
Thank you for your input!
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Sometimes everything comes together all at once. While searching for stamps with pince-nez I ran across John Bassett Moore on a $5 U.S. stamp from 1965. It is an unusual stamp in its stark appearance by being black & white. John Bassett Moore? I never heard of the man before this stamp and I have a fairly strong grasp of American history.
Last week I went to a stamp show in San Jose with my good friend Ken. He insisted on buying me the Moore stamp shown above (Scott 1295 for stamp collectors). Thanks Ken.
My other collecting interest is autographs of lesser known figures in American history. My favorite seller on eBay offered a John Bassett Moore autograph shown above. The item arrived yesterday and I'm very pleased with the fountain pen signature.
And there is the pince-nez aspect. Mr. Moore wore the rimless hoop spring variety pince-nez which was popular from about 1880 to 1910. A wonderful simple style which I wear (I alternate among three sets of glasses).
Who was John Bassett Moore? My first stop was Wikipedia. He was the foremost expert in the U.S. on international law in his time and the first American to serve on the Permanent Court of International Justice (1920-28). He was a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School in 1880 and served in the State Department as an assistant secretary of state. Mr. Moore became a professor of international law at Columbia University.
There is an excellent summary of his career on the Virginia Journal of International Law website. This short two page tribute to Mr. Moore also discusses his beliefs. He advocated U.S. neutrality in the 1930s. I found the following text in their tribute to be of particular interest today:
"His [Moore's] argument was essentially simple: that the “new” internationalism, in its efforts to guarantee peace, really did no more than guarantee that any future war would be a world war. He held that if you start out forcibly to maintain peace you will have to spend your blood and treasure on the job; and if you are not willing to do that, then you must mind your own business and maintain your own neutrality in every war that does not immediately concern you." (Vol. 1, Issue 2-5) [emphasis added]
The University of Virginia also has a student organization called the John Bassett Moore Society of International Law. He is well remembered in Virginia.
Friday, January 3, 2014
Adam has worn a rimless fingerpiece pince-nez full time for over three years to correct myopia. Adam graduated from veterinary school in Scotland and has returned home to the Chicago area where he is now employed as a vet. He receives many compliments regarding his perfect pince-nez eyeglasses.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
[The Renaissance received a charming story from a young lady who is new to the world of pince-nez. She prefers to be known as Madame X. Many aspects of her story reminded me of my own challenges and joys. This post is a little longer than usual but definitely worth the read.]
My life has been transformed due to the wonder of internet shopping. I have amassed eleven pairs of wildly differing styles of eyeglasses. This never would have been possible on a student budget before competitive internet pricing. Caught in the fever of collecting unusual styles, I stumbled across galleries of antique eyewear and grew fascinated with the idea of wearing a pince-nez.
I found myself coveting them all, from the rimless finger-pieces, through the heavily-ornamented oxfords, the fantastic fun of the zyl frames to the sleek curve of hoop-springs. The photographs and stories on the Renaissance blog convinced me that I could actually wear a pince-nez. I began browsing eBay’s listings on a regular basis. Gorgeous mountings of all types slipped beyond my budget with distressing regularity.
Imagine my intense desire when a listing appeared for a lovely mounting – a warm gold color, with exactly the bridge shape I thought would flatter me, complete with an ear-chain and its original aluminum case engraved with my initials. I skyped my father in the US, wanting to persuade him that having them shipped there and having him forward them would be worth the hassle and postage. At first, he was unimpressed; “Another pince-nez,” he sighed. “What’s so special about this one?” I simply said, “Look closer. They have my name on them.” He said he couldn’t argue with that, and offered them as my Christmas present.
The pince-nez fit comfortably and securely even with the frankly alarmingly heavy glass lenses. The ear-chain turned out to flatter my face. I love asymmetry and I’m taken with the way the ear chain drapes and emphasizes the line of the cheekbone. As an astounding bonus, I discovered that the mounting is marked 14k.
I then visited my regular optician, sure he’d be able to glaze them. He’d been a great help to me over the years so I was unprepared for how vehemently he shot me down. The second I said “pince-nez” came a terse “I don’t do those”. Other places were equally discouraging. They told me my prescription was too strong to fit the mounting, or that they couldn’t possibly do a drill mounting in a thin enough lens.
I tried again once I got back to Europe. At the first optician I found, I cautiously asked if they’d be willing to take on a bit of a project. The optician was enthusiastic, asking half a dozen questions about where I had found such a thing, when they were worn, etc. After measurements and a quick discussion of coatings (and price!) she cheerfully wished me good-bye and told me they’d be done in a week. Success. The fit was secure and feather-light. Once I had them on, she turned to the back and called out “She’s here! She’s wearing them! You have to come and look!” “It certainly was a challenge, with that prescription,” the optician told me, “It took a lot of fiddling – but it was a pleasure to do something completely different.”
Since then, I’ve worn them quite frequently and had predominantly positive feedback. Reaction from friends and colleagues has also been positive; of course, my crowd is largely fellow literature and theatre students, so it’s perhaps a biased sample - here, pince-nez are mostly associated with Joyce or Yeats. Strangers don’t take much notice unless they’re also glasses-wearers, in which case they usually react with a flurry of questions. By far my favorite reaction, though, was from a young boy who was sitting opposite me on the bus; he stared quite intently for a while and then whispered urgently to his father, “that lady is doing magic”.
As a final comment, I’ve discovered a few unexpected bonuses of wearing pince-nez: I can see while doing my hair. Hairstyles no longer have to compensate for temples. Hats are more comfortable. Leaning or lying on my side is now possible with vision; this is marvelous for reading in bed, or comfortably watching television. There is nothing to clash or snag during hugs or kisses on the cheek. I can impersonate Munch’s “Scream”. All round, I’m deliriously happy with how everything turned out.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Pince-nez is alive and well in Greece, due in part to the efforts of Alexander. He sent the Renaissance a thoughtful email over the weekend and discussed his positive experience with pince-nez. Alexander describes himself as a thirty-six year old Athenian who is a published author/poet and art historian. As you can see, he wears the flexible guard style quite comfortably.
Alexander has a nice collection of flexible guard pince-nez and one Oxford as seen below. While the Oxford is rather heavy to wear, he does get a lot of wear from the flexible guard at home, teaching and leisurely walks. This type of pince-nez is not as stable on the nose as hoop springs or fingerpiece varieties, therefore not recommended for full-time use.
Readers are encouraged to submit their stories and/or photos for posting on this website. We depend on your input. Many thanks to Alexander for his story and pictures.