Monday, January 21, 2008

Varieties of Pince-Nez Eyewear


I've had the opportunity to take in some basic lessons regarding pince-nez eyewear. At first glance, you may think that all pince-nez eyewear is the same variety. Ahh, nothing is so simple. There are two main varieties of this eyeglass style: hoopspring and fingerpiece. Subtle variations exist within each major group but each group is distinct in construction.

Hoopspring


This is the type that is placed on the nose by using both hands to move the lenses apart. Once released on the nose, the bridge contracts and the nose guards clamp against the sides of the bridge of the nose. Here the spring is actually the pince-nez bridge itself. The most common of this variety was called in the optical trade a hoopspring. There are several other variations of this type and the bridges varied a bit in style, but the principle is the same. The bridge, due to its flexibility acted as a spring exerting enough tension to keep the pince-nez in place on the nose bridge.

A different type popular in the U.K. had an actual spring covering a flat, straight bridge which served to hold the frame together. This type was never as popular in the USA. This style can easily be found on the UK eBay.

The great advantage of a hoopspring is that it relatively easy to adjust. This style was very popular in FDR's administration.

Fingerpiece


This is the type that has a tiny spring on each side of the bridge near the lenses. The nose guard grips were anchored by a screw around which was a tiny coil spring. For the rimless fingerpiece, tiny tabs extended over the edge of the lenses and a screw attached to this tab held each lens in place. With the thumb and forefinger the lever tabs were opened, the pince-nez could be placed on or removed from the nose. The nose guards, due to spring pressure, contracted against the sides of the bridge of the nose forming a secure fit. This type was called in the optical trade a fingerpiece.

This type was in some ways more practical than the hoopspring as there was greater ease in putting it on and taking it off. You only had to use the thumb and index finger. Also, the lenses and bridge remained stationary as only the spring-powered nose guard grips moved.

A drawback to the fingerpiece is that it required a skilled initial fitting by a knowledgeable optician and the right size bridge.

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