Updated: Aug 26, 2022
This is a pince-nez style set of eyeglasses, popularized during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This set features a “C-bridge” meaning the metal piece is both flexible and bendable. This particular set has oval lenses and gold rims, with the bridge engraved with “STEVENS & C”.
This particular style was popular in France in the 1850s and later saw popularity in the United States by about 1880. The name pince-nez translates into pinch-nose, an appropriate title as these glasses have no temples. Instead, spring loaded nose pieces squeeze the nose, thereby keeping the glasses from falling off.
With many pince-nez glasses, there were holes through which a chain or string would be strung, as is the case with this set in the rim. When the glasses weren’t being worn, one could simply remove them but still have them in reaching distance. People often removed them as the style could be painful on the nose.
The bridges were susceptible to constant wear from repeated flexing, and in often cases they would break or lose their tension. The advantage of this set would be that one size could fit a variety of nose bridges, however its inability to manage ones astigmatism was seen as a flaw for many wearers. Later models of pince-nez glasses would correct this with a bar spring and cork nose pads.