Anyone who is at all familiar with pince nez and oxfords will know that the antique eyeglass frames which were made for these items of eyewear came in two major configurations – rimmed and rimless. Each of these styles were manufactured in countless millions during the heyday of the pince nez, between the Civil War and the First World War. Each has its own distinctive advantages and disadvantages, as well as a particular stylistic feel.
Which type you prefer depends partly on the reason for your interest in antique eyeglass frames, of course. If you are planning to actually wear the pince nez you purchase, then the choice should be made based on how the glasses look on you, and how you like the appearance they give. If you are a collector, then obtaining both types of antique eyeglass frames is necessary for a well-rounded collection.
Many pince nez were made with rimmed antique eyeglasses in which eyerims, bridge, and plaquettes were all part of one material whole that contained the lenses and held them in place with a metal surround. (The same is true of those with rubber, Zyl, horn, and other materials used to make the rims or even the entire antique eyeglass frames.)
These pince nez have a more definite presence on the face, since there is a physical metal or rubber eyerim surrounding each lens. These vintage eyeglasses do not have as minimalistic a look as rimless pince nez, yet, if the eyerims were fashioned to be slender and well-proportioned, they can impart a lot of dignity and style as well.
Rimmed antique eyeglass frames for your pince nez have a mix of benefits and flaws in the technical sphere. The problem with such pince nez is that the size and shape of the lenses is already pre-defined – you cannot fit oval lenses into them if the eyerims are round, for example, and you can cannot select larger or smaller lenses to suit your taste or your ophthalmic needs.
However, they are also much easier to get new lenses fitted to, since there is a frame and it is only necessary to fit the lenses in, and the task is done. There is no drilling of holes through potentially friable safety glass, no precise placement of each lens relative to the other, and so on, as is the case with rimless pince nez being fitted with new lenses. The lenses can be cut to the appropriate size and shape, the retaining screws of the antique eyeglass frames loosened, the lenses inserted, and the task is done.
Rimless antique eyeglasses for pince nez
Rimless antique eyeglass frames for pince nez consist of no more than some kind of metal bridge piece with screw mountings to be inserted through a hole drilled in each lens. Depending on the mounting, practically any type of pince nez bridge can be fitted to a pair of rimless lenses in this way. The result is a very low profile, Spartan-looking pair of pince nez which appeals to those who still want to make their eyewear as invisible as possible – or who want a genuine-looking pair of pince nez mirrored sunglasses in the form of “Matrix glasses”.
Though any size or shape of lenses can be fitted to these rimless vintage eyeglasses, the technical challenge of drilling these lenses for mounting is a precision task best left to professional hands – the main drawback to the rimless type of pince nez from a modern perspective.