What are Antique Lorgnettes?

  • A lorgnette is a pair of spectacles which are held to the eyes with a long handle, rather than being fitted over the ears.
  • The word is derived from the French word ‘lorgner’ to peer at.
  • Lorgnettes were invented in England during the 1700s by a man called George Adams.
  • Lorgnettes were very popular throughout the Victorian era and were the preferred way for ladies to wear spectacles.
  • They continued to be worn through the 1920s and beyond, although they eventually came to be seen as something older ladies wore.
  • Lorgnettes were often worn around the neck with a chain.
  • Often, lorgnettes were highly ornate and jeweled and were considered more of a piece of jewelry than just a practical item.
  • Holding lorgnettes up to the eyes in a way that was just so was considered a perfect opportunity to convey comportment, style, and finesse. They were a more feminine and streamlined look for stylish ladies than the spectacles that gentlemen wore.

File:Silver Lorgnette, circa 1909.jpg

A FRENCH GOLD, ENAMEL, AND GEM-SET LORGNETTE

French gold enamel and gem set lorgnette c. 1890
Christie’s Sale 2560

A BELLE EPOQUE SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND LORGNETTE

Belle Epoque Sapphire and Diamond Lorgnette
Christie’s Sale 2306

A pair of French Art Nouveau gold and diamond lorgnettes

A pair of French Art Nouveau gold and diamond lorgnettes
Christie’s Sale 5891

A pair of early 20th century diamond lorgnettes

A pair of early 20th-century diamond lorgnettes
Christie’s Sale 5888

A pair of late 19th century gold and gem lorgnettes

A pair of late 19th-century gold and gem lorgnettes
Christie’s Sale 5383

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