Round Sunglasses - Double-Hinged Bow, 19th Century
Oval, rectangular and round frame eyeglasses have competed with one another for ocular dominance in America since its founding. Round frames were considered 'out of style' by the end of the Revolution War (possibly due to their victory over England), to be
replaced by rectangular frames. In turn, the rectangular frames
lost out to oval frames around 1860; however, round eyeglasses were still in existence during the American Civil War.
These are, of course, only general guidelines. Thus, though not
prevalent, some round frames were made during the Civil War. Likewise,
although the rectangular frames went out of style by 1860, some people
would have continued to wear such frames.
Compared to modern eyeglasses,
antique spectacles are very small. Lens grinding technology was the
limiting factor in determining the size of early spectacles. Limited technology,
coupled with the size
of the average person in the mid-1800's combined to give people who wore spectacles an appearance
indicative of that period; a defining frame-to-face
ratio. Today we are physically larger than we were
in the 1800's and original period spectacles are just too small for most of us.
A good rule of thumb for spectacle
size is approximately two-thirds the width of the
face, eyes centered horizontally in the lens portion of the
spectacles. As we are physically larger today than in
the past, spectacle sizes can
be increased to comfortably fit the wearer, while
maintaining the approximate frame-to-face ratio
of the past.
Original 18th Century Eyewear.