There was no such thing as being able to buy eye glasses online of course. You had to go to an optician in person, usually in a city. This wasn't easy for someone like Sarah Elizabeth, who lived a fair distance from Philadelphia. If she had been a wealthy urbanite, she might have chosen a fancy lorgnette or scissors glasses to peer through at the opera or parties. These were both types of glasses on a handle that were especially popular with women from the late 18th century on through the 19th. They were often gilded and had elaborate decorations. The lorgnette had a single handle; scissors glasses were V shaped. You can see pictures of them both below - aren't they beautiful?
Sarah Elizabeth's more utilitarian glasses were wire framed, and tinted to protect her eyes from glare. Sir Thomas Longmore writes in 1885 in The Optical Manual that blue or smoke-tinted glasses were best for this purpose. If tinted lenses were not enough protection, he wrote, you could buy "Eye Protectors"; these were also tinted, but were spoon-shaped to keep dust and grit out of one's eyes (rather like goggles).
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