Eyeglasses/Spectacles: A Question for Reenactors

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RebelHeart

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I am in need of purchasing new eyeglasses soon as my prescription has changed. I'm looking for a decent company with good reproductions of Civil War era frames to get my new prescriptions filled with. They will likely be multi-focal lenses so anyone that is doing only single-correction lenses won't be an option.

Can anyone recommend a good online company for finding these?

My thanks in advance for any help offered.
 
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MaryDee

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Fortunately, since cataract surgery with lens implants, I can see well enough without glasses to get around (not to drive, but close), so I need only closeup lenses for reading/sewing, and get along fine with the generic drugstore reading glasses. I got those (for reenactment use only) at McAllister, although the frames are a bit too big for my head and also a bit too big for the period.

Another possibility is to get reproduction frames and take them to your regular optician to have the lenses made and inserted. That's what I would have done if I needed a prescription lens. You'll certainly get better lenses that way, but not all opticians will do that.

Actually, bifocals (the kind with the line) were invented by Ben Franklin, so they should be fine. Trifocals were invented in 1827. Again, those would have the lines between so would be authentic. However, most soldiers in the CW would not have been old enough to need multifocal lenses! OK if you're an officer.

Contact lenses are the most commonly used solution for reenactments, or you could get glasses with lenses for distance vision only and a second pair for reading. Although you will notice the difference between progressive (no line) multifocals, nobody else will if the frames are authentic. However, the small frames that were in use at the period might limit the vision fields for multifocals.

Here is a thread from "The Authentic Campaigner" with ideas: http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?33869-Reproduction-Glasses
 
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RebelHeart

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Fortunately, since cataract surgery with lens implants, I can see well enough without glasses to get around (not to drive, but close), so I need only closeup lenses for reading/sewing, and get along fine with the generic drugstore reading glasses. I got those (for reenactment use only) at McAllister, although the frames are a bit too big for my head and also a bit too big for the period.

Another possibility is to get reproduction frames and take them to your regular optician to have the lenses made and inserted. That's what I would have done if I needed a prescription lens. You'll certainly get better lenses that way, but not all opticians will do that.

Actually, bifocals (the kind with the line) were invented by Ben Franklin, so they should be fine. Trifocals were invented in 1827. Again, those would have the lines between so would be authentic. However, most soldiers in the CW would not have been old enough to need multifocal lenses! OK if you're an officer.

Contact lenses are the most commonly used solution for reenactments, or you could get glasses with lenses for distance vision only and a second pair for reading. Although you will notice the difference between progressive (no line) multifocals, nobody else will if the frames are authentic. However, the small frames that were in use at the period might limit the vision fields for multifocals.

Here is a thread from "The Authentic Campaigner" with ideas: http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?33869-Reproduction-Glasses
Thanks for the excellent feedback, MaryDee. I should have specified that I'm not actually a reenaactor (yet), but just that I felt that people already involved in those activities might have better leads on glasses that were modeled after those worn at the time. I've seen the McAllister glasses and was considering them, but I wanted to ask around a bit before going that route (they're expensive for my meager budget).
 
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I will say this: In my OPINION, if a person HAS to wear glasses, the best thing they can do is get Period Correct frames (as long as their lens prescription will fit)....Wearing glasses 100% of the time (in the absence of contacts) is far safer and more comfortable than going blind! :smile:

If possible, get the correct frames.....I hate to see a guy spend a thousand dollars on his uniform and gear, only to look silly by wearing "modern" frames instead of Period Correct frames for $30......I also realize that, while the frames might be inexpensive, getting an extra pair of lenses might be cost prohibitive for some, so I hope to over-look the guys who are trying to make a good effort and are present, regardless of frames.....My intent is to encourage a guy to reeneact, spend time around the campfires with Pards, teach the public.....I'd rather have a guy with me in modern frames, than to have a guy stay at home because all he lacks are frames.....
In short, do what you can to be out there in camp and on the battlefield!! :smile:
 
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IrishReb1863

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I bought a pair of original frames for $30.00 and paid to have lens put in them for $40.00. They were not bifocals. There are some good reproductions available for around $30-40. If you have to go with modern frames, there are some that are close to the authentic look. I know a few guys that have really nice and authentic kit but wear modern black plastic horn rim style glasses. That really kills a good impression.
 

MaryDee

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The gizmos that pinch your nose on modern metal frames were also not used in the Civil War era, so even modern metal frames of a similar style won't work. I originally wondered if I could somehow cut those off modern drugstore reading glasses, but gave up on the idea. First, the frame broke when I tried to cut the gizmos off; second, the cut left a sharp edge--ouch! (I was experimenting on an old pair with badly scratched lenses that had to be discarded anyway, so no $$ were involved.)

I definitely understand the problem for those nearsighted folks who cannot wear contacts. Before my cataract surgery with artificial lens implants, I couldn't see clearly the big E on the eye chart until I got within 6 inches of it!
 

Legion Para

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How authentic do you want to be? Many progressive reeanctors wear original frames with modern lenses. Period frames can be found on ebay and in antique shops. Period frames are not expensive.
 
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ucvrelics

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I saw this post and the period ad and had to go find the relic case with these glasses in it. I found these back in 1984 in a Union camp of Gen Wilson's Calvary Corp on is raid thru Alabama. I found a lot of artifacts in this camp but this was one of my favorites. I always wondered about the way the frames were built till I saw this post. From what I can see the frames were made to be adjustable and to fit any one and that was what you got
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, then they added your lenses. Lot different today
 

johan_steele

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Pictured below are two pair of original eyeglasses. When purchasing original eyeglasses you will need to study the attachment points of the frame; for a modern optometry team to touch them they must be screws NOT a lead plug. Using a lead plug was common practice at the time.

The darker set I have placed a piece of rubber shrink wrap along one leg of the frame; the edge was quite sharp and I grew weary of sling open the skin above my ear.

I paid $6 for one & $12 IIRC for the other. getting the lenses done was quite a bit more.
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donna

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I wonder how many of the generals of Civil War needed glasses. Is there a thread on this.? I guess off subject but since I have worn glasses since 4th grade, know how important they are for me.
 
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Beltplate53

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I need the same thing but only if I read something which is usually in camp and not on the battlefield while reenacting. I have found a websight called Historic Eyewear Company . They sell reproduction eyeglasses but the price for frames are around 175.00 which means that they would become my everyday glasses also.
 
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kbaxley45

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I just got a pair from Historic Eyewear a couple of weeks ago. The frames are sized to fit our bigger faces and the frames are really well made.

Some colleagues of mine have also purchased the real things from antique stores, but, the frames are so small that they're sometimes not worth wearing.

Certain Flexible Spending Accounts (if you have one) will reimburse you for the cost of the frames and Historic Eyewear can furnish you with a receipt that indicates they are Rx for sending to your provider.

I also wear bifocals normally but got the distance-only lenses put into my historic eyewear frames for 20 bucks.

Now I no longer have to squint on the battlefield.
 
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