Covent Garden Goes Conceptual

Covent Garden Goes Conceptual
Cubitts • Bespoke • Spectacle Craft

In addition to our made-to-measure collection at Cubitts Covent Garden, we have created two unique concept frames to mark our newest store: the Penny Pincher and the Monmouth.


A round eye with a twist, the Penny Pincher features one outrageously thick acetate rim, with a penny in place of a lens. 

It references ancient burial rites; a nod to our Covent Garden store’s previous incarnation as A. France and Son, undertakers. 

The practice of putting a coin in the mouth of the deceased, known as Charon’s obol, began as a way to pay (or bribe) Charon, the ferryman who would whisk the soul across the river Styx and into the world of the dead. Legend has it that those who can’t afford to pay the ferryman were forced to wander the river’s shores for one hundred years. 

Interestingly, Charon translates as ‘of keen gaze’, referring to fierce, flashing or feverish eyes, and is possibly a euphemism for death. 

The custom of placing coins on the eyes is more disputed, though it’s believed that a pair of coins would be used only when a return trip is anticipated. Spooky.


Based on the Monmouth frame from The Covent Garden Collection, this chamfered frame takes its inspiration from the (now sadly absent) sundial that once marked the centre of Seven Dials, with a capacious lower half which juts out at right angles like the gnomons casting a shadow.

As with the Penny Pincher, it pays homage to the building’s previous tenants, with gilt brass pins that reference the coffin of Lord Admiral Nelson.

Nelson’s funeral was such an event that it was too much for one funeral director to manage alone. The France family undertakers were responsible for arranging the lying in state in the Painted Chamber at the Royal Naval Hospital in Greenwich and also built the coffin, which used 10,000 gilt brass nails and cost the magnificent sum of ten guineas.

The Covent Garden concept frames will be on display in Cubitts Covent Garden for the foreseeable future, so do go and pay them a visit.