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.


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