Saturday, June 28, 2008

Will I Ever Learn? (another eBay story)

In past posts I wrote about my disappointment with pince-nez on eBay for the purpose of actual wear. I have to distinguish the intended purpose for my buying on eBay. Collectible or actual wear? I did buy one fantastic trial fitting set several months ago which is a great collectible. However for actual wear, pince-nez on eBay has been a disappointment after several purchases.

This outcome shouldn't be surprising as pince-nez, by nature, is very temperamental regarding fit. After all, a trial fitting consisted of a dozen mountings varying greatly in size and dimensions. The only way to truly determine fit was the physical act of trying it on. Add in some possible, undisclosed condition problems and eBay looks less promising for a wearable pince-nez.

So two weeks ago I purchased another pince-nez on eBay. A pair of white, octagonal gold filled specs accompanied the pince-nez and the purchase price was $5. I couldn't pass it up even though I didn't have time to ask for close-ups of the glasses. I ran across the listing with hours to go. The hoop spring looked quite attractive and I'm in the market for a wearable one.

A mild disappointment. The fit is just a little too snug with nose pads, and this mounting cannot be worn without one. The tortoiseshell back on the left guard is gone. With nose pads, it wouldn't make a difference but these hoop springs have seen a lot of wear. The white specs has some corrosion issues on the temples.

There was a bright side to the purchase. I did get a pretty nifty aluminum American Optical case in good condition. I found the AO symbol on the back of the case.

There is a solution in the works for those looking to buy a wearable pince-nez. In the near future the Renaissance will have a buy and sell board. Once again, the Renaissance takes a proactive stance!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pince-Nez Pride

A good friend of mine who wears pince-nez warned me a long time ago about dealing with opticians and optical stores. "Almost all of them will think you are weird," he said in so many words. I didn't pay much attention to this warning but I did remember it. Recently I had a bad experience with an optician that my partner has been using for twenty years or so. They made the lenses for my fingerpiece yet provided virtually no follow-up care with adjustments. The store's leading salesperson spent no more than two minutes on each of my visits after buying the lenses. The undertone was clear from her and others in the store: you're weird.

I vowed never to go back nor recommend the store to others. Since my partner is faithful to them in spite of my experience, I won't mention the name.

I had one other interesting experience with retail pince-nez shopping. A few months ago I went into a small, well-known optical store in Union Square. I received horrible customer service from the salesman. He did the unspeakable thing to a customer by turning his back on me and walking away while I was still asking questions.

I was so mad that I wrote a harsh but fair review of this store on Yelp. Last Friday I received a very apologetic email from the store owner. She was quite sincere in her apology and assured me that she spoke with her staff. For that reason, I removed the review. My review certainly had an impact! It was quite beneficial for the store owner as well.

All I can say is that I haven't found a good dealer of pince-nez in San Francisco. I'm still looking and will recommend one if found.

I'm glad that I spoke up. If dealers do think we're weird, they better keep their opinions to themselves. If you experience poor or improper service, speak up. Do an online review or write the store owner. Conversely, praise a good dealer or optician. The free market does work.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Frustration (and hope!)

Yes, I feel like tearing my hair out. All is not well with my new pince-nez. The damn thing has become painful on one side of my nose. The right side of the glasses feels fine on my nose. Just a slight red impression which is expected and there is no discomfort. The left side became very irritated after two weeks of wear. The first week was fine for some reason.

Now to play the Blame Game. I can't blame the glasses. They are in great shape and look fine. The blame rests entirely with the opticians I used in the Castro in San Francisco. Since my partner has been loyal to this place for twenty years and still goes there, I won't mention their name. Three times I went back for "adjustments" and in all instances their best salesperson didn't spend more than two minutes with me. She didn't even try. Just getting down to the store required taking extra time for lunch and a Muni ride down to the Castro. If only they tried, and failed, I wouldn't really mind.

I can understand how someone would be hesitant to adjust an antique pince-nez. I explicitly told Karen that I understand the mounting can break. The risk is fine with me. Just try to make them fit comfortably.

Two weeks ago I bought a pair of needle nose pliers in an attempt to do it myself. I made a slight adjustment to the left nose guard and it looked better. No more pain! A couple days of wearing the pince-nez and I experienced no discomfort.

Then in the second week the pain came back. Damn! This is more complicated than I previously thought. No sense in going back to the same opticians.

Perhaps a competent optician can adjust this pince-nez. If not, I can take the lenses and place them in another mounting as the lens holes all appear to be drilled in the same offset position. All I know is that my ambition is temporarily thwarted. It is possible for a pince-nez to fit well as one side sits just fine.

I am planning to try the hoop spring style as this is much easier to adjust than a fingerpiece.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pince-Nez in New York City

It felt great taking a few weeks off and tending to the mundane matters of life. A bit of rest works a great wonder. As previously stated, I still kept the Renaissance in business over my break. I received some photos and emails from Eric in New York City. He is a very knowledgeable about pince-nez and a practicing enthusiast. Here he is pictured with a hoop spring pince-nez that he wore at his wedding. Note the ear loop. A great look, reminiscent of the Golden Age of pince-nez.

Eric has a great collection of antique and vintage eyewear. Here is a nice still shot below of some frames. Two 18th century steel frames are on the left, followed by tortoise shell, horseshoe shaped glasses circa late 19th century, and a Chinese tea glass frame is in the lower right. The toy soldiers and photos add more personality to the varied collection of eyewear.

Many thanks to Eric for sending in his photos and contributing to the Renaissance.


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