Friday, April 15, 2011

Aunt Lizzie's Fabulous Glasses

Whitehouse the Optician The Illustrated London Almanac 1869
from The Illustrated London Almanac, 1869
I've been the family genealogist for a long time - on and off since my teens. And I've done plenty of family trees for everyone, from big wall charts to quick scratch-pad sketches to show someone a line of descent. Someday I'll really have to do a family tree showing all my ancestors wearing eyeglasses. There's a long history in my family of wearing glasses. My parents both wore glasses. My maternal grandmother had hers on in her formal portrait in 1926: dark dress, gorgeous hair,  pearls - and wire framed glasses. And her grandmother wore green tinted glasses to protect her eyes - I don't know why exactly, but the family story was that she had had some illness or accident that weakened them back in the 1850s, when she was in her 20s.

But my favorite glasses-wearing ancestors are two great great aunts, sisters named Augusta and Lizzie. They were New York girls of the 1890s. Augusta was handsome and serious, and wore her eyeglasses in her formal wedding portrait. Dark haired and elegant, her wire framed glasses enhance the image of her as a young woman who notices (and makes note of) everything.

detail Lizzie Koch photo front 1897And then there's Lizzie. Here she is posing in 1897 with her poetry book (I feel sure that it must be a poetry book), a thoughtful expression - and some fabulous wire-framed glasses. Here is a woman who really, really loved her glasses, because she obviously gave the photo set-up plenty of thought (check out the lamp on the left - the lampshade even matches her sleeves). I think that Lizzie's glasses were some sort of prescription eyeglasses for reading that fancy poetry book. I depend on my glasses for reading (and everything else), too. And like Lizzie, I like wearing them very much.

You can save money when you next order glasses if you go over to - just use the code Blog10 for a coupon worth 10% off. And not only that, but you can buy one pair worth at least $80 and get a lovely free sunglasses upgrade worth $29.95 with the code FreeTint. If only my glasses-loving Great Great Aunt Lizzie had been able to do this in the 1890s! I'm sure she would have enjoyed having a few extra pairs of glasses, and saving money, too.


Marcheline said...

That's not a poetry book... it's her journal! Full of titillating accounts of occasions on which a gentleman got a glimpse of her ankle as she came down the stairs!

Kath Lockett said...

Lizzie looks ever so slightly cross-eyed to me. Hard-core 1870s porn will do that though.