Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seeing Clearly in the Regency - Vivienne

If you ever wondered what people with poor eyesight used during the Regency and Georgian eras...

Since ladies and gentlemen did not wear spectacles out in public, many people used a quizzing glass. They were so fashionable that even those with good vision would carry them. A quizzing glass would be held up to the eye to see a person or object better (rather than directly holding it over an object or newspaper as you would a magnifying glass). A person would wear it by stringing a gold chain or ribbon through the smaller loop.

While I think it started out as a practical device for those with poor eyesight, it was also used at social gatherings to people watch or to indicate annoyance or interest in another guest. Historical Hussies mentions that Beau Brummel used the device to demonstrate his disapproval of people he didn't like. In a society where manners and good breeding were everything, a person could give an insult or  approval without saying a word.

Another popular viewing device was a lorgnette, which was basically a cross between a quizzing glass and spectacles. It is the precursor to modern opera glasses. The lorgnette was invented in 1770, while the quizzing glass was invented in 1727.

For more information, visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment