Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: Year in Review

2009 was a great year for the Renaissance and pince-nez in general. There haven't been many posts this calendar year as back on the February 25th post LeDandy announced "mission accomplished." Unlike President Bush and the Iraq conflict, LeDandy really did mean the mission was accomplished in terms of the Renaissance's primary objective: assisting those who want to wear pince-nez. I realize the blog format is not best suited for presenting information so there is an annotated table of contents at left to guide the newcomer. Judging by readers' comments, this approach seems to work.

My colleague, Mr. Richard Johnson, was recognized on my other blog (LeDandy of Northern California) as the 2009 Man of the Year. Without him, this blog would not be possible. Furthermore, I would not be wearing pince-nez!

The Renaissance provides the necessary guidance for those wanting to embark on wearing pince-nez. Antique mountings are easily available through eBay at a modest cost and perfectly suited for modern wear. It may take some time to find an optician to make lenses, but one can usually find someone in a relatively short time. It is important to remember some of the tips contained herein as opticians usually have no practical knowledge of pince-nez.

The hard part is one's desire to wear these wonderful eyeglasses. The smorgasbord of pince-nez is waiting for you. All you have to do is step forward and take part in it. One needs to think of pince-nez as modern eyewear and not just an accessory for theater or historical re-enactments. In LeDandy's opinion, the rimless pince-nez is a timeless look and always appropriate. How can it fail as it is a minimalist approach?

If you want to wear pince-nez, give it a try. If this blog has helped you, contribute back to the community by submitting your own story for publication. Happy 2010!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Overlooked Item: The Pince-Nez Case

You have your pince-nez. It was tough to find the right fit with mountings but you finally have the perfect one. Then it took some time to find an optician to make your lenses. At last, a pince-nez that you truly love. Then one day you forgot where you put it down. The next thing you hear is a sickening crunch. So much for your wonderful pince-nez.

The situation described above hasn't happened to me but I'm sure it has happened to others. Protect your investment with a suitable case.

The good news is that pince-nez cases are relatively common and available on eBay and other places. In fact, many pince-nez are sold with a case. The important factor with the case is the size. It is much better to have a snug fit with your eyeglasses so they don't bounce around in it. The case below is perfectly sized for pince-nez.

Of course you can buy a normal sized eyeglass case if you keep your pince-nez in a stationary position. If carrying your case, you can always wrap your glasses in a cleaning cloth to prevent internal movement. Many beautiful eyeglass cases are available on eBay at a great price. The one pictured below has a starting bid of $10.

A brief note on cords, chains and earloops. These accessories must be kept apart from the eyeglasses while in the case. Otherwise, the cords and chains will get entangled with the mounting and knots will develop. A small piece of cardboard separating the chain or cord on the bottom of the case from they eyeglasses should remedy this situation.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Feature: Discussion Threads!

The Renaissance is pleased to announce the start of a new feature on this site: a pince-nez discussion section. Any readers interested in starting a discussion can submit a topic / question to LeDandy. The topics will be posted in new blog entries. Readers and the moderators (Mr. Johnson and I) can post replies in the comment section of the blog post.

Please do not address me as "Mr. LeDandy" in your email. I haven't been blogging on fashion subjects for five years to be called "Mr." It is Dr. LeDandy! :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Renaissance's Mr. Richard Johnson Wins Award!

My learned colleague of this blog, Mr. Richard Johnson, has won the 2009 Man of the Year Award from the world renowned fashion authority, LeDandy (of Northern California). Mr. Johnson is the "brain" behind the Renaissance and he is the premier expert on pince-nez. Congratulations Mr. Johnson! An award well deserved.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Too Young for Pince-Nez?

Perhaps, but it is a nice opportunity to see a photo of reader Nick's growing son. You may recall a June 30th post showing a younger lad. Thanks Nick for the update and beautiful photo.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cases for Pince-Nez

[Nick from the UK has kindly submitted the following article, along with photos. Readers are encouraged to send in articles about pince-nez for publication.]

The best way to carry pince nez is in a purpose made case. Modern cases are far too large, even child size ones which are sometimes even bigger. A case is needed to prevent scratching the lenses or snapping the mounting (that was the sad fate of my first pince nez). Cases can be found in antique stores and luckily fingerpiece and hoopspring cases seem to be fairly common.

I came across a case when I was looking for a new one which also had a pair of pince nez which fit better than the ones I had been using (I had been using an antique case for a child's glasses which was small, but still much bigger than my pince nez). Unfortunately, the spring in the lid was broken. I bought the case anyway and made a quick repair which has worked very well. All that is needed is a bit of super glue, a piece of 1/4" elastic, and a sew-on snap. The elastic must be not quite long enough to completely go around the case. Put a small dot of superglue in the centre of the case bottom and attach the eleastic, then sew on the snap to each end. This keeps the lid closed and is easy to open.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Great Reasons for Wearing Pince-Nez

[Reader article submitted by David in Virginia. Thank you for your wonderful post.]

The express purpose of the Pince-Nez Renaissance is to promote the wearing of pince-nez in today's world as a viable alternative to spectacles. Please keep in mind that there are several objective reasons for someone to wear pince-nez, provided that he/she likes the look of the eyewear.

Appearance: The timeless, minimalistic simplicity of a rimless pince-nez enhances the face rather than hiding it in the manner of most modern eyewear. It is truly jewelry for the nose! A rimmed pince-nez can also offer similar features.

Comfort and Security: While it has often been stated that a proper pince-nez fit can be a period of trial and error which can lead to frustration, a successful fit results in a pince-nez which is extremely comfortable and amazingly secure at all times. Unlike most modern spectacles, there is no annoying problem with slipping, tilting or sliding down the nose etc. One is unaware that there's anything attached to the face if a pince-nez is a perfect fit.

Also added to the comfort feature of a rimless pince-nez is the fact there is no frame to obstruct one's vision even to the slightest degree, and with modern lenses the pince-nez is weightless!

Individualism: To wear a pince-nez one has to have an inborn desire to be a distinct individual rather than one who follows the dictates of the masses or mass media hype. If you are bold enough to stand out in your own unique way, a pince-nez is the perfect eyewear for you and your beautiful, perfect pince-nez may make you a trend setter in your own small way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mr. Baker's Hoop Springs

I recently acquired the autograph of this gentleman, Newton D. Baker, on eBay. He was Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of War during World War I. See my post on LeDandy for the whole story. I love his hoop springs!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another Review of Debby Burk's New Pince-Nez Readers

[My learned colleague wrote his own review of Burk's new readers which was discussed on our last post.]

The new rimless hoopspring pince-nez readers are, like the earlier version, an excellent inexpensive "modern" pince-nez.

There are several design improvements: small, oval lenses sitting lower in the "straps" and a bridge spring which attaches via screws to the mounting along with the nose guards. This pince-nez is basically an exact copy of the classic antique rimless hoop spring circa 1900 version.

The simple yet elegant minimalistic look enhances the face rather than detracting from it the way most modern eye-wear does.

The mounting is constructed of inexpensive gold colored metal.This negative aspect has a positive side effect. Like Burk's earlier version, this pince-nez has absolutely amazing flexibility which results in an ease of adjustment to fit the individuals nose bridge with total comfort and security. The silicone nose pads which are provided should be applied to the nose guards for added comfort and they give a very secure attachment of the pince-nez to nose bridge. Properly fit and adjusted this pince-nez will not pose and stability problems even during extreme physical activity.

Another wonderful feature is that this pince-nez could be re-lensed should the buyer wish to wear it full time.

Since there is no other modern pince-nez which "works," this is the only choice for those who don't wish to purchase an antique version.

The $30.00 price tag is an amazing bargain.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The New Debby Burk Pince-Nez Readers

I received the new hoop spring pince-nez reader from Debby Burk Optical last week. The price has gone up to $30 but I believe this price is a bargain for a now faithful reproduction of the classic hoop spring. Burk took our advice and made the new lenses smaller and they are now in more of an oval shape. Also, the mounting is constructed in an identical manner to the antique hoop springs in that the nose guard is detachable and secured by a screw to the main spring.

Burk also includes a pair of silicone nose pads. I find the pads greatly improve one's comfort and security while wearing pince-nez. You will probably want to use them but they are not required for short term wear.

This is the instruction sheet included with the set. I'm glad that they advise wearing the glasses on the upper part of the nose.

I tried to disassemble the nose guard. Unfortunately I have a cheap set of small screwdrivers so I gave up. I'm sure that one would be able to take it apart with a good set. Personally, I would not swap prescription lenses with this mounting. The material is nowhere near the quality of antique mountings. It is possible to swap lenses if one so desires. This is a personal choice.

Burk is to be applauded for the great improvements to these inexpensive readers. If you are considering pince-nez and have not previously worn this style, I strongly encourage you to get these readers. Also, these glasses do make an excellent reader and are quite attractive.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A New Life

A loyal reader of the Renaissance, Nick from the UK, just sent in a picture of himself with his new baby boy. The Renaissance congratulates Nick on this wonderful occasion and wishes his family much health and happiness. Oh yes, the fingerpiece looks great on Nick.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Antique Pince-Nez Mountings vs. Contemporary Mountings

We have received several emails from readers asking about current manufacturers of pince-nez mountings. The answer is that only cheap mountings are made today for readers and sunglasses. I would not recommend having prescription lenses made for any of them. While the Debby Burk hoop spring readers are quite functional, the mounting is crudely made and not worthy of prescription lenses.

The good news is that the antique mountings are often found in great condition and sometimes "new, old stock" pieces are available. * These antiques, in the proper condition, are perfectly functional and exceed the quality of anything which can be made today. Today's technology is impressive but the real craftsmanship, unfortunately, belongs in the past. Personally, I'd rather have something made in the distant past if technology is not an issue.

Lets be realistic. Pince-nez will most likely not become a mainstream style of eyewear. Businesses run on profit and the costs of making quality mountings on a small scale are prohibitive. Most opticians prefer the ease and high profit margin of modern eyewear. Very few are craftsmen who enjoy the history and challenge of making antique eyewear functional for the customer.

As you may have read on my other blog LeDandy, I prefer the craftsmanship and material of vintage Bragano shoes which I find on eBay. Somehow the work of today cannot compete with the items of yesteryear. This is not just my opinion but that of professionals in the shoe world. Another worthwhile area of savings and quality can be found in furniture.

But I digress. You should have no qualms about purchasing antique mountings in suitable condition. Lets be grateful these gems from the past are still here. Below are some close up photos of a fingerpiece from one of my fitting sets. Older is better.

*eBay is still the best available route for purchasing antique pince-nez, while one may have luck at flea markets as well. See post.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pince-Nez Poetry

Yes, you read the title correctly. Poetry. A kind reader in Russia by the name of Max submitted this poem to the Renaissance. Max has a gift with words for a language other than his native tongue. Thank you Max for the poem.

A pince-nez or spectacles? What might be better?
For many of people this point doesn’t matter!
But certainly others have to make a choice
For which of these subjects to give their voice.

In order to help to arrive at decision
I’d share with all people my own vision:
Choose one and the other! And do not think twice!
Then any eyewear is useful device!

It seems I’ve already talked here. But while
I’m good-eyesight man who’s been masking his smile.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An Optician in Chicago for Pince-Nez

The other day the Renaissance received an email from an optician in Chicago who enjoys working with pince-nez and other vintage frames. If you are in the Chicago area, you will definitely want to check out Labrabbit Optics for relensing your pince-nez. On his blog's webpage, he has a photo of a rimmed hoop spring which he recently completed.

If you have searched for an optical shop to make lenses for pince-nez, you understand that many are reluctant or downright refuse to work with this style. Others seem to do it grudgingly and provide little in the way of customer service. It takes a true craftsman (or is it craftsperson) with a love for the trade to properly fit a customer with pince-nez.

I haven't used Labrabbit Optics so I can't speak from personal experience. If you do use their services, please leave a comment here so others may benefit.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Much is My Pince-Nez Worth?

We receive this kind of question in various forms. One would assume that since this eyewear usually qualifies as an antique, there is considerable value for these glasses. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We are not antique experts but the majority of pince-nez sell on eBay for under $50. Gold mountings, usually 10k or 14k, sell in the $100 range or less on eBay if they are in good condition. Pince-nez marked 1/12k are gold-filled and have no gold value. You may have seen pince-nez listed in antique stores for a considerably higher price. This is most likely due to a higher profit margin for the stores.

One possibility for a rare, valuable pince-nez would be if the glasses were worn by a famous person at one time. Naturally this is difficult claim to prove and it must be supported by photos and/or other documentation showing provenance. To be truly valuable, the eyeglasses need to have been worn by the person and not merely an item in his/her collection.

Antique pince-nez may not have much of a monetary value. Nevertheless, please keep in mind that most of these eyeglasses were made with a precision, materials and workmanship which cannot be duplicated today. For purposes of actual usage, an antique mounting is highly desirable.

The Renaissance is not a collector's website. We focus on assisting those who want to wear pince-nez. If you have an interest in the history of pince-nez, I strongly suggest you look at Antique Spectacles as they are experts in the field. If you want to wear the glasses, then you found the right place here at the Renaissance!

This is general advice only. Before selling your pince-nez, you should consult several sources so you know the true market value of the item. If you believe your pince-nez was worn by a famous person and you have proof of this claim, then you should contact a major auction house such as Sotheby's or Christie's.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Big No-No for Pince-Nez Wear

Pince-nez should never, never be worn far down on the nose as pictured here. For some reason, many people believe that pince-nez should be worn in this position. I've seen it on ads for cheap, modern readers as well as ads on eBay by sellers who have no idea about this eyewear. It is impractical to wear them this way and it looks pretentious. You don't want the glasses to restrict your breathing!

If you insist on wearing eyeglasses that rest on the tip of your nose, switch to spectacles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nick's Story

This is the second of two responses to our call for readers' stories. Nick from the UK was kind enough to send in his story.

I imagine some people may be interested in wearing pince nez, but are nervous about sticking out. When sitting side by side with a pair of modern glasses, they are certainly different. Even when worn, the lack of temples and whatever mechanism grips the bridge of the nose set pince nez apart from spectacles. But how noticeable are they really? After several years of wearing pince nez for sunglasses and for reading, I’ve started to wonder.

When I first started wearing pince nez, I only had sunglasses, since I didn’t need them for my eyesight. I spent some time talking to a friend outdoors one day, and had them on due to the glare from the snow. She saw me again a couple days later (I was wearing them again), and asked, ‘Your glasses don’t have temples, do they?’ She hadn’t noticed the first time. Now, a few years later, I need reading glasses, and have a fingerpiece pince nez. I had been wearing them for a few weeks, when in one class I took them off. The person sitting next to me, who I often sat by, noticed that my glasses were ‘missing bits!’ And as a last example, I spent over an hour talking with my advisor about a proposal I was writing, wearing them all the while. She didn’t mention anything about them, but a couple weeks later, I talked with her again. I took them off and set them down on my notebook, and she suddenly noticed the lack of temples.

Of course, sometimes people notice right away, and they will almost invariably be interested in how they stay on. They may even ask if they can try them on. Chalk up another advantage for pince nez, they’re an excellent conversation starter!

Tadd's Story

The Renaissance's call for participation was answered by two brave souls. Presented below is the first entry. Tadd presented his story and he was kind enough to send a photo. He writes as follows:

I recently turned thirty-two years old and I've been wearing a 14K gold hoopspring pince-nez for ten years. I've had the lenses changed once so far. I plan on wearing a pince-nez for the remainder of my day and I'll never go back to regular spectacles again!

I suppose I was drawn to pince-nez because of my love of history. I used to see old photos in books and I loved the look of pince-nez. After high school I started scouting antique stores for pince-nez and began collecting them as a small hobby. I prefer to buy antique pince-nez in person so you can try them on and make sure they fit before you buy. It wasn't until 1999 that I finally took a gold hoopspring and had the lenses changed out with new ones for my prescription.

I've always received positive compliments on my pince-nez, some people don't even notice them - most do though! I find pince-nez to be very comfortable. I use no additional padding and I can't even feel them on my nose when I wear them. I can do most anything while I'm wearing them and I do wear them all the time. I'm terribly glad I made the decision to start wearing a pince-nez and I've never looked back.

Thanks Tadd for your wonderful story and photo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is the Renaissance a Community Blog?

It is up to you.

The mission of this blog is to assist people who want to wear pince-nez eyeglasses by providing the necessary information and advice. It has succeeded far beyond my expectations. Yes, we are a highly specialized interest group and I didn't expect many hits on this site. I was wrong. There are many people interested in pince-nez around the world.

My learned friend and I who run this website intended to make the Renaissance a community blog and not focus entirely on the two of us. To that extent we have asked for readers to submit their own stories related to pince-nez. We have not received one story for posting to date. Pictures alone are not enough. We need to share our stories with each other as it helps in so many ways. You can email me at the address in the left hand column.

The Renaissance will continue with its mission which is going so well. However, it would be improper to present the Renaissance as a community blog if there is no input from our readers. In life there are many things which are beyond your control. This is not one of them.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another Review of Debby Burk's Pince-Nez Readers

[My learned colleague drafted his own review of Burk's readers as shown on our last post. While my colleague and I agree on most key points, there are some differences in our opinions. We disagree on the issue of re-lensing the mounting. Below is his review.]

Copied from the classic design of the 1890-1920 era, this new, very attractive and extremely well designed rimless hoop spring pince-nez is to be praised because of its great flexibility and the truly amazing ease in adjusting it to fit almost any width nose bridge as long as it has some prominence. This is a quality that the antique hoop spring pince-nez did not possess. I do feel that the silicone nose pads should be used with this pince-nez and applied with the wider end on the top of the nose guard.

While the overall quality of this mounting doesn't come close to that of the antique gold, gold-filled or silver mountings, it certainly matches or exceeds the workmanship of the bulk of modern eye wear at a fraction of the price.

I would suggest that purchasing this pince-nez is a great idea for those who just need "readers". Perfect too for those who want a spare or those who successfully wear a fingerpiece but are curious about wearing a hoop spring. It is the ideal solution for people who wish to try wearing a pince-nez for the first time, to have the experience of its great comfort and security of it on the bridge of the nose. For those who are averse to wear a used pince-nez available on eBAY or from antique shops, this new item is just the thing. The bargain price makes it irresistible!

It should not be a problem to re-lens this new pince-nez if you have a minus or astigmatism Rx. The problem lies in finding an optician who will deal with a product they don't sell.

In short, this is THE ONLY pince-nez being manufactured today which is well designed. All others appear to have major flaws and are extremely expensive and just plain don't work.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Review: Modern Pince-Nez Readers

Earlier in the week I received a pince-nez reader from Debby Burk Optical. My colleague and I have been looking forward to reviewing these readers as the lenses are set on a modern mounting. With a purchase price listed at $24.95, we did not expect much beyond the cheap drugstore reading glasses. Without giving away the whole review, I will say that we were very pleasantly surprised.

The glasses arrived with a soft leather carrying case and a simple cutout with instructions for adjustment of the bridge.

This is a classic, hoop spring style mounting. I was amazed at its remarkable similarity in construction to my antique hoop springs that I wear daily. For the price, I expected a one piece unit for the bridge, nose guards and lens straps. Just like the antique hoop springs, Burk's readers use a a screw to attach the separate nose guards and lens straps to the bridge. See the Renaissance post on antique hoop springs to compare the similarity in design.

Another nice feature is the screw attachment for the lens to the lens strap. A nice touch! I expected the cheap rivets used in the old drugstore, pince-nez sunglasses.

You'll note the nose guards have a smooth finish. At first I thought the nose guards were the old style "sanitary" (i.e., all metal) pads. I was wrong. There is a lacquer finish to them which helps the grip on the nose.

The mounting itself is crude when compared to the quality of antique hoop springs. However this does not interfere with its function and should not present a problem to the wearer. For the price, the mounting is very well made and impressive.

The wonderful modern aspect of this mounting is its incredible flexibility. I have always been skeptical of "one size fits all" claims. Burk's readers do live up to this statement as the spring steel mounting will adapt to a wide variety of nose bridge widths. When I received the readers, the bridge was very wide. The instructions tell the wearer to narrow the bridge mounting by bringing the lenses together so they overlap each other. It works. An antique bridge would never hold up to this kind of treatment.

The plastic lenses (C-39) are typical of the quality of lenses for inexpensive readers and more than adequate for its intended purpose. Since I do not use readers (yet!), I can't speak to the accuracy of the lens but I have no reason to doubt their claimed strength. I chose the lowest strength lens for my sample.

Burk's readers use a roundish lens which is better suited in size for conventional specs. Each lens measures roughly one and three quarters inches wide and one and a half inches tall. The classic dimensions for an oval pince-nez lens is about a one quarter inch less in height and width. A large lens is a common mistake for eye professionals when dealing with pince-nez. The smaller, classic lenses looks much better and is more stable for wear (lenses pictured below). Nevertheless, the supplied lenses should work fine as a reader.

Since the mounting is so flexible, a great fit is assured if you have a suitably prominent nose bridge for pince-nez wear. The simple instructions provided with the readers allows even the clumsiest wearer to properly adjust the bridge. By crossing the lenses together a few times, I had a perfect fit.

Now on to the nose guards. Compared to antique nose guards, they are more comfortable and secure thanks to the lacquer coating. A wearer should have no problem with slippage or comfort for short periods of time.

The addition of silicone nose pads help immensely for longer term wear and enhanced comfort. I put on a pair of my QTE nose pads and I was very impressed with the fit of these readers. The combination of silicone nose pads and the adjustable mounting provide the perfect fit.

The Renaissance endorses Burk's pince-nez as an excellent, inexpensive reader for the house. Due to the large, disproportionate size of the lenses, these glasses would not look good in public for most people.

Also, we strongly encourage anyone interested in wearing pince-nez to purchase these readers in order to get a "feel" for a pince-nez with proper fit. If you've had no experience wearing pince-nez, this is an essential step before you invest in getting a set of prescription lenses made for your future mounting. Don't be cocky, it is not that easy to gauge a good fit with pince-nez if you have never worn them.

I would not have prescription lenses made for this mounting.

My first antique mounting proved to be too tight after extended wear. This situation could have been avoided if I experienced the proper fit of a pince-nez via these readers. It is $25 well spent, considering lenses will probably cost you more than $200.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Buying Tips Revisited

This blog gets many questions from readers regarding leads on buying pince-nez. Thank you for your questions! I only wish that is was easier to buy pince-nez for the determined wearer. As always, if you happen to discover a good source for this eyewear, whether it be an online seller or brick & mortar vintage eyeglass store, please leave a comment or write to us so we may share this info with other readers. It also helps a good business stay in business.

One question which comes up frequently is a request for a current manufacturer of pince-nez mountings. To our knowledge, we do not know of a current maker of quality pince-nez mountings. The good news is that the antique mountings are probably better than anything which could be made today.

What about sellers? Is it really necessary to have an unconditional return policy of at least seven days as advocated in prior posts? It depends. If the purchase price is very low (i.e., under $20 or so) you may want to take a chance on fit. If it doesn't fit, you can always resell it if the item is in good condition. However, if you are spending more and want to ensure a good fit and quality item, it is recommended that you have at least seven days to determine if the mounting is right for you. Pince-nez fit much differently than conventional eyewear with temples.

LeDandy purchased the hoop spring pictured above as part of a fitting set late last year on eBay. As you can see from my photo, it is garbage. However, the seller's photo of the entire set was far more flattering. I'm glad that I ensured there was an unconditional return policy before purchasing the set.

The other point about sellers worth mentioning is seller communication. It is critical that the seller respond to your inquiries. Remember, you are the customer. You deserve to be treated in a polite and professional manner. If communication is lacking from the seller, this is a warning signal. If you have any questions at all regarding an item, ask them. You have the right to ask questions and receive a polite, prompt and accurate answer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Finding the Right Optician To Make Your Lenses

If you want to wear pince-nez, they should be on your face and not sitting in a drawer as pictured here. Once you find a suitable mounting, you still need to have lenses made for it.

The Renaissance receives many questions from readers asking about referrals to opticians who specialize in pince-nez so that they can have lenses made. To our knowledge, we do not know of any optical store which has expertise with pince-nez. This is not surprising since this style of eyewear left the mainstream optical arena in the 1930's. Sadly, we also no longer have experts who are trained in pince-nez fitting as these men would be over a hundred years old now.

Now for the good news. You do not need an optician with expertise in this eyewear to make your lenses. Any competent and motivated optician can do it.

Finding a competent and motivated optician, while seemingly very easy to do, can actually be a challenge for the pince-nez enthusiast in the real world. Competency is not usually a major concern. It is easy to determine if an optical store does good work by reading online reviews and listening to referrals from friends. The hard part is finding someone who is motivated to work with pince-nez. I was shocked by the difficulty in finding an optician to make lenses for my pince-nez here in San Francisco.

Why do I stress an optician's motivation? Because your purchase extends beyond the manufacture and mounting of lenses on your eyeglasses. You will also need fitting adjustments made to your mounting. I learned this lesson the hard way after having my first set of lenses made by a boutique optician (Eyegotcha) in the Castro. After the sale, they did not make a good faith attempt to work with me on adjustments to my fingerpiece. Unless you feel totally confident in your abilities, I suggest leaving fitting adjustments to a professional.

I strongly urge you to do some investigative work in finding an optician to make your lenses. It is an investment which will pay off in having a wearable pince-nez. Otherwise, at best your eyeglasses will sit in a drawer awaiting a new set of lenses. In the worst case, an incompetent optician can ruin your pince-nez.

Exercise your due diligence in finding an optician. Read reviews and get referrals from friends. Then you can make phone calls to see if they will work with pince-nez. Of those who do, I suggest visiting the store and interviewing the optician or staff to see if they will accommodate your needs. For those of you who will not do your own adjustments, ask if they will work with you on fitting after the sale. Here you will need to use your intuition as well.

My learned friend put together a list of practices for opticians to use when working with pince-nez. It is an excellent guide to take with you. For convenience, you can read it here as an Adobe pdf file.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pince-Nez Oddities

This is a fun topic. I recently received notice that Antique Spectacles has posted photos of a large assortment of pince-nez oddities. Yes, there are some very unusual and interesting configurations of pince-nez in this group. There is one flexible guard style on the first page which has lenses resembling cooked eggs (i.e.,yellow center, white periphery). Words alone cannot do justice to these images.

There are about seventy images appearing on two web pages. Please check out this amazing collection on The pages are entitled "Not Your Average Pince-Nez."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Market Value of a Pince-Nez Fitting Set

The other day an auction ended on eBay for an American Optical fitting set. It was a well-worded ad and this auction received fifteen bids from six bidders for the twelve piece set. While the mountings appeared to be in very good condition, the case and insert had some condition issues. Nevertheless, fitting sets appear only once every few months or so on eBay. The winning bid for this set was $177.50.

As a collectible, the fitting set does not appear to generate much collector interest in terms of monetary value.

The winning bidder did manage a good deal as the fingerpieces alone were well worth the final price, averaging $14.79 per mounting. If you peruse the eBay listings, final prices for fingerpieces usually range from $15 to $30 for mountings in very good condition or better.

In terms of historical value, the fitting set is a priceless item for the pince-nez enthusiast. It harks back to a time when the optical patient received individual attention from a trained optician.

Collectibles are subject to the old law of supply and demand in relation to price. While the fitting sets are very scarce, there does not seem to be a big money demand for them. I think that is great! It allows pince-nez enthusiasts to acquire them at a reasonable price. If you are a true collector, the monetary value shouldn't be a consideration. It is a historical item which needs to be preserved.

If you are a lover of pince-nez, I hope you can acquire one of these sets. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mission Accomplished (but still more to do)

Yes, I think of this day as graduation day for the Renaissance. I've been reviewing the content of this site and came to the realization that the basics concerning pince-nez have been satisfactorily covered.

What do I mean by "basics?" For all of my adult life I have wanted to wear pince-nez. No one ever took me seriously. I'd get a chuckle perhaps at an optical store, but no one ever cared. Then along came the internet and all of a sudden I met several like-minded individuals. I received an email one day from a gentleman who has been wearing pince-nez for most of his life. Not only did he inspire me, but he gave me the essential information which enabled me to wear this eyewear. This vital information is what I refer to as the basics.

My learned friend modestly claims that he is no expert. I disagree. His knowledge has been so critical that I am certain I would not be wearing pince-nez if it were not for him. The deceptively simple piece of eyewear is much more complicated than ordinary spectacles. I now believe that this blog has touched on the major issues and concerns which will confront a prospective wearer.

So where will the Renaissance go now? There is only one place to go after graduation: advanced studies! Look for articles addressing pince-nez history in more depth, among other topics.

We are looking for pince-nez enthusiasts to write articles and contribute their stories. Please email LeDandy if you'd like to help our community. Of course we can always touch on the basic issues (e.g., fit, places to buy pince-nez) as needed. Questions are always welcome.

It is likely that the frequency of posts will be less than in the past. Advanced studies involve more time. I highly recommend using Google Reader or similar application so you will be advised of updates. It is a great way to keep track of blogs at one time so you don't have to manually check for updates. Of course you'll also want to keep abreast of LeDandy (of Northern California).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pince-Nez Potpourri

A nice sounding phrase? Well, this is one of those weekends where I have a few important yet unrelated posts.

  • - This is the finest source on the internet for the history of eyewear. They have a pince-nez page and recently added the Renaissance as a link. Many thanks to Dr. Fleishman at AntiqueSpectacles.
  • Hybrid Pince-Nez - This particular mounting sold recently on eBay for $11. It is a hybrid hoop spring / fingerpiece! It was popular from about 1902 - 1912. The tension is the bridge, even though it looks like a fingerpiece. If anyone has more information on this style, please comment.
  • Mounting or Frame? - A learned reader raised a good point concerning pince-nez terminology. He said that a rimless pince-nez should be called a mounting whereas eyeglasses with rims should be called a frame. It makes sense!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another One of LeDandy's Wedding Photos

pince nez hoop springs c bridge
Yes, LeDandy has put up a few photos of himself on this blog. I considered whether or not I should add another one. I ran across this pic from my wedding which I didn't put up in my wedding post of a month ago. This pic really highlights my hoop springs and I thought it would be a nice addition to the photo gallery. Plus we paid a nice sum of money to the photographer so I might as well use everything from that day. God, I love my hoops!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pince-Nez in the Movies

Last year I wrote a post about a pince-nez sighting on a (relatively) old episode of Mission Impossible from 1968. In that episode, an Eastern bloc head of state wore a fingerpiece. Since that time, I've been paying attention to pince-nez appearances on tv and in the movies.

Nick, a loyal reader of the Renaissance, sent in some information on this topic:

"Some movies I've recently noted, are "Meet John Doe," the classic Capra movie, in which the character of D.B. Norton wears an interesting pince nez, and throughout the movie continuously sticks the lenses in is mouth to fog them before cleaning them. In the 1918 Tarzan, the first Tarzan movie, the captain wears pince nez with the ribbon hung over his ear, something seen in photos occasionally, but even takes them off and lets them hang from the ear at one point. And in the 1953 compilation of the '30s Buck Rodgers serial, we see that pince nez will still be worn in the 26th century! These are only a few, of course."

The photo above is taken from "Meet John Doe," which can be found at along with the other movies mentioned by Nick. The Renaissance thanks Nick for his interesting input.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Any Reactions to Your Pince-Nez?

I've written quite a bit on this site about my own experiences. I've received a number of compliments on both styles of pince-nez but for the most part people do not comment on my choice of eyewear. I'm sure this is partly due to a sense of politeness. However I really do believe that most people simply don't notice them. I work in San Francisco and I'm sure it is probably the most liberal city in the country. Liberal not just in politics but also culture. It is typical to see nose rings, piercings and purple hair on the street. Do you think anyone will care about pince-nez in SF?

So I ask you pince-nez enthusiasts, what reactions have you encountered in public while wearing your pince-nez? This is an important subject as I'm sure many readers are a tad reluctant to wear pince-nez on a full time basis. I can tell you that if you live in the SF Bay Area, it won't be a problem! Please remember to specify your location.

I look forward to reading your responses.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Judgment from Nuremburg, Part II

The Renaissance recently connected with Dr. David Fleishman of If you have not seen this website, I strongly encourage you to check it out. There is a great deal of history and information on eyewear, including a nice section on pince-nez. The site is remarkable for its imagery and scope. As pince-nez enthusiasts, it is important to have a basic knowledge of eyewear history. makes the process informative and fun. I especially like the section entitled Eyeglasses Through the Ages, a great primer on history.

The need for understanding eyewear history was clearly demonstrated back about a month ago in a post when I failed to identify a set of Nuremburg spectacles on eBay (shown below). The seller mistakenly labeled these eyeglasses as pince-nez from the early 20th century. In fact these glasses date to about 1720 and are a remarkable specimen (a "facett glaser" according to an expert collector). Pince-nez did not come into existence until about 1840 in France.

Dr. Fleishman provided some interesting information on Nuremburg spectacles. The name refers to the first mass produced eyeglasses with origins in the very late 15th century. These eyeglasses were made in German cities centered mostly around Nuremburg, but including also Regensburg and Furth. Nice examples are indeed rare and are desired by knowledgeable collectors, since it is estimated that only about four hundred survive to this day. Of those only about one in ten has a maker's name along the edge, making them particularly scarce. Few examples currently exist in American collections.

In another post of a month ago I also referenced the Nuremburg spectacles shown below from a 2007 Christie's auction which sold for $1,660. I described these eyeglasses as shoddy. Once again, LeDandy was incorrect. This set had the maker's name, Georg Jacob Bauer, along the edge of the copper wire. Therefore, these spectacles are very rare and clearly worth the auction price.

At least one fact came out of this experience. LeDandy was clearly not meant to be an antique appraiser! The Renaissance thanks Dr. Fleishman for his information on Nuremburg spectacles.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More On Pince-Nez Fit and Measurement

On my January 17, 2009 post I wrote about a fitting set which I bought on eBay. Fitting sets were used to determine the proper size of a particular style on a customer. The sets usually contained a dozen pince-nez and there was an accompanying chart describing the various measurements of each mounting using three different positions. [click on it for close-up]

pince nez fitting setHere is a close-up discussing the different kinds of measurements. It is very interesting.

pince nez fitting set
I wrote in previous posts that there is no method for properly measuring a pince-nez for fit. You must try on a pince-nez to determine a proper fit.

So you may be saying "LeDandy, you schmuck, a fitting set contains measurements so there is a way to measure pince-nez." The proof, obviously, is in the cardboard insert.

I still believe in my prior statement. There is no way to properly measure a pince-nez for fit. The key phrase is "for fit." Two major points stand out to me in regard to the cardboard insert for fitting sets.

First, the measurements on the insert apply to the one particular style of mounting in the set. Two fingerpieces, each with the same measurements from two different styles, will probably not fit in the same manner. It is roughly analogous to a pair of shoes. Shoes with the same measurements in length and width may not fit in the same way, or at all, if the styles are different. The same principle applies to pince-nez. In fact, pince-nez requires greater precision as there is less tolerance for an imperfect fit.

Secondly, the measurements taken for the fitting set do not include any listing of nose guard distances. The nose guards must be comfortable for a good fit. Otherwise, as I know from personal experience, you cannot wear them. It can even be painful.

You can measure distances at different positions between nose guards. Even if you go this route, you can still not be assured of a proper fit. There is not one predominant style of nose guard. Nose guards of different styles with the same measurements will probably feel different on your nose bridge. Also, you need to consider the spring tension as for fit.

There is only one known way to determine a proper fit. You must try them on. Fitting sets worked because all of the pince-nez were the same bridge style with the same type of nose guard and springs.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Understanding Our Heritage

The primary purpose of this website is to promote the modern day wear of pince-nez. Unlike other websites which focus on pince-nez as a collectible, we show you how it is practical and desirable to wear them. Recently I've received questions from readers asking historical questions. We do have a basic history presented in many of the posts, courtesy of my friend who is well-versed in pince-nez. This information provides a solid overview and we also have many interesting pieces of trivia. Nevertheless, I intend on pursuing more knowledge for my own sake as well as the benefit of this column.

The internet is a wonderful way to gain knowledge on virtually all topics. The key word here is "virtually." Pince-nez, of course, is an exception to this rule. I'm sure you have googled this subject and have not found much in the way of practical information.

I found a good bibliography on which provides a good starting point for eyewear research. I expect many of the books listed on their site have a section for pince-nez as well as spectacles. I have not found a book devoted entirely to pince-nez. Yesterday I checked the availability of some of these books on Amazon. I found Eyewear: Gli Occhiali by Franca Acerenza, pictured, at left on Amazon for $2 (plus $4 shipping) and ordered it. The nice thing about Amazon is that they have reader reviews which can be quite helpful.

If you have you have read or have knowledge of any books or any sources of information on pince-nez, please post a comment. After all, we are here to help each other.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My New Fitting Set

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical"The stuff that dreams are made of." I remember this quote from "The Maltese Falcon," one of my favorite films with Humphrey Bogart. If you asked me about my dreams when I was seventeen, I guarantee you my response would be very different! But now I'm settled down and appreciate the finer things in life. As you may recall, I bought a fitting set a few weeks ago on eBay. This set is in superb condition and has ten of the twelve original fingerpieces.

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american opticalAre these sets rare? I'm not sure. I will say they are quite scarce and appear on eBay at times. I'm glad to have a nearly complete set and will definitely leave this set to a museum one day. It really is a trip back in time when the customer received individual attention from an optician. These days you stand in line at a big chain store and hope you run into a competent salesperson.

Were these fitting sets important? Anyone who has bought the fingerpiece style understands how difficult it can be to achieve the right fit with this style of pince-nez. A good fit is not as easy as it looks and can be very frustrating to the novice. In fact, I almost gave up at one point (glad I didn't!).

The cardboard insert is in exceptional condition and has virtually no toning from age. I believe this condition is mostly due to the felt insert in the case.

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical
Here is the full view of the insert.

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american opticalHere are close-ups of the text. It gives the reader an appreciation for the detail involved with achieving the proper fit for the customer. Note the significance of each digit in the model number.

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical
pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical
Of course the real charm of the set lies in the pince-nez itself. This particular set has the sanitary nose guard style, that is an all metal nose guard. The pictures speak for themselves.

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical

pince nez fitting set fits-u fingerpiece american optical

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gentleman From the Old School

It must have been a couple glasses of wine, but this photo from of one of our readers brought that phrase to mind. Robert from Michigan is wearing a new, old stock Zyl fingerpiece from Shur-On. He is quite handy as a craftsman and made all of the adjustments necessary to get a good fit. As you can tell, he is also a snappy dresser. Thanks for sending in your photo, Robert.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hoop Springs at My Wedding

On November 1 of last year, LeDandy finally took the plunge into marriage with Jon Dean. Our timing was superb as Proposition 8 on the California ballot passed on November 4th which disallowed gay marriage. I'm not going to discuss politics but instead focus on my hoop springs worn at the wedding. I initially wore a fingerpiece, then decided to switch to hoop springs as they are my favorite.

Oh yes, there was someone else at the wedding besides LeDandy. His spouse! Here I am with Jon Dean after the service, walking down the aisle. It was a joyous day. [note LeDandy's velvet bee slippers!]


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