Friday, November 28, 2008

A Guide to Pince-Nez


There is a lot of information in this blog about pince-nez. So much that I recognize the difficulty in applying many of the tips which have been gathered by others through years of experience. Personally, there are a handful of tips which I believe are critical to the wearing of this form of eyewear.

Don't worry about making mistakes along the way. I stumbled and my first pince-nez didn't work out. I was able to take the lenses from that mounting and switch them to a mounting that did work for me.

Without further ado, here is a reader's quick annotated table of contents.

I. Can (and Should) I wear pince-nez?

One must have some prominence to the nose bridge. Furthermore, one must have the desire to wear it. Articles (1/24/08) and (4/9/10) [a must read!]. Don't worry, a properly fitted pince-nez will not fall off one's face with ordinary wear. Article (1/23/08). We strongly encourage you to buy an inexpensive, adustable pince-nez reader so you can understand the nature of this eyewear's style and fit. Article (4/19/09).

II. What are the styles and which one should I wear?

Rimless hoop springs and fingerpieces are the most practical styles to wear. Article (1/21/08). The Oxford style is beautiful but not suitable for wear. Article (3/1/08). The Astig is a far easier fit than the hoop spring or fingerpiece but it looks right on only a certain kind of face. Article (4/23/08) and Article (5/2/10). The flexible guard pince-nez is quite common but not practical for modern wear. Article (5/9/08) Rimmed pince-nez are also an alternative but tend to look old-fashioned. The novice is advised to stay away from zyl-rims (plastic) as only the screw-mount variety can easily be re-lensed. Articles 2/8/08 and 12/6/08. The screw-mount zyl frame is relatively rare.

Learn the correct terminology so there is less confusion when you converse with other pince-nez fans. (Article 12/13/10)

Safety devices such as ear loops or ribbons are unnecessary if you have a properly fit pince-nez. Articles 10/5/08 and 1/10/09.

III. Where Can I Buy Pince-Nez?

Despite the label, not many vintage eyewear stores carry pince-nez. Those who do usually charge an absurd price. Best bet is eBay. Article (7/12/2008). Make sure there is a good return policy for the pince-nez as fit is vital. Article (3/28/09).
Do not believe measurements provided by sellers as there is no known accurate method of calculating the size of pince-nez in regard to fit. Article (7/5/08), Article (1/29/09). With experience, you'll be able to roughly gauge size from pictures. Article (8/21/11)
The authors do not know of any current makers of quality pince-nez eyewear. Only cheap readers and sunglasses of this style are made today. The good news is that antique pince-nez are often found in suitable condition for relensing and wear. Article (6/28/09). There is no need to find modern mountings as the antique ones are far superior in terms of material and construction to anything that can be mass produced today.

IV. Proper fit and adjustment.

A long article but required reading for any pince-nez wearer. Article (11/4/08). Generally speaking, the nose guards should require only a minimal amount of space to open before securing on the nose bridge. Silicone nose pads, which are strongly recommended, will affect fit (see section below on nose pads). Pince-nez should never be worn far down on the nose. Article (6/3/09).

V. Having Lenses Made for Your Pince-Nez.

You cannot wear your pince-nez without having correct lenses installed. Once again, this can be a challenging task and there are some concerns to keep in mind. Article (3/21/09). It is often possible to swap one set of lenses in a pince-nez to another mounting. Article (7/26/08).

VI. Get the small, classic sized lenses for rimless hoop springs and fingerpieces.

Opticians will try to convince you to get large lenses for your pince-nez, similar in size to those for modern spectacles. This is, with very rare exception, a crucial mistake. The traditional small lenses are best for many reasons. Article (9/13/08). Oval lenses of classic dimensions should be used for pince-nez. Article (10/30/10). Of course, get plastic or polycarbonate lenses. Article (11/18/08). Progressive lenses do work with small sizes. Article (10/8/11)

VII. Buy silicone nose pads for comfort and security.

This is a critical point. Most wearers will want to buy this wonderful item as it greatly improves comfort for all day wear and provides enhanced security. Article (2/19/08), Article (2/22/08). Nose pads do narrow the distance between the nose guards so take this factor into consideration regarding the size of your mounting. QTE makes excellent silicone nose pads. Article (5/17/08).

VIII. Are pince-nez rare and how much are they worth?

Even though this style of eyewear usually qualifies as an antique, the majority of pince-nez have a market value of $50 or less. Exceptions do exist but they are quite uncommon. Article (6/11/09).

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