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.


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