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.


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