Looking Back: A Brief History of Glasses

Share this Page:

Looking Back: A Brief History of Glasses

It’s almost impossible to imagine a time when glasses didn’t exist, yet, with all the incredible technological advancements that have taken place in the last few years, it’s easy to see how something we take for granted can evolve in such a short period of time. With that in mind, we took a look back at where our essential everyday eyeglasses actually came from!

Held in front of the eyes or balanced on the nose, the first iteration of glasses appeared in Italy around 1286. The inventor is unknown, but with the rapid advancements in literacy, the invention of the printing press and availability of books, developments in the design and manufacturing of glasses was super speedy!

By the 1700s, glasses that rested on the ear using temple pieces had been invented, in addition to bifocals, which were invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. Other styles included scissor glasses (which could be held up to the eyes) and wig spectacles (which featured exaggerated temple pieces that stuck out from the back of a wig).

Cheap and quickly made glasses began to flood the market in the 1800s, sold by traveling salesmen, jewelers and various stores. Hand-held designs continued to gain in popularity with manufacturers experimenting by placing glasses into everyday objects, including fans, pencils and mirrors.

THE FASHION: 1900s Onward
Public figures and celebrities began to influence everyday trends, making glasses a fashion statement. As trends shifted, so did the styles that were manufactured. In the 1930s, sunglasses were invented, and in the 1940s, plastic frames made every color of glasses available. Today, glasses are simply considered a seamless part of a stylish wardrobe.

Discover the very latest development in glasses—funoogles with interchangeable frames—right here!