A case history

John Dixon Salt of the Ophthalmic Antiques International Collectors’ Club takes readers on a fascinating journey through history; describing how, once upon the time, the now humble spectacle case was considered quite the status symbol

Figure 1: Nose spectacles inside a book

Intended to protect their contents and consequently taking the brunt of wear and damage, early spectacles cases are difficult to find in good condition. Initially, the use of sight correction was restricted to the wealthy literate section of society who were inclined to show off their wealth, resulting in spectacle cases often being magnificent works of art, which remain highly prized today.

Nose spectacles inserted into and protected by the cover of a book, speaks volumes about the value placed on the visual aid compared to the book itself. Made from a large variety of materials, early cases were often skilfully carved and can also be found embellished with the owner’s crest or coat of arms.

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