The Evolution of the Folding Eyeglass

The Evolution of the Folding Eyeglass

The humble spectacle has come a long way. And while some of the more impractical forms have been and gone, the icons still remain. One style that has stood the test of time is the folding frame. 

This summer it makes its debut in Cubitts’ collection, and in honour of its arrival we’re taking a look back at its evolution from handheld optical assistance to icon of the industry.

The Rivet Spectacle

The earliest spectacles had no sides, and were held together by a simple rivet, with the eye rims perching on the nose, or folding on top of one another.

The Lorgnette

The name ‘lorgnette’ is, unsurprisingly, taken from the French language. And yet, the French for lorgnette is face-a-main. Were you to ask for a lorgnette in France, you’d be presented with a small telescope. Go figure. The lorgnette was a folding spectacle in a different way than our new frame. Invented around 1770 by Englishman George Adams, it featured a pair of lenses attached to a handle that often doubled up as a case, folding in on themselves with snug precision.

The Spring Action Double Eyeglass 

Patented by Robert Bretell Bate in 1825, this new and improved eyeglass involved two lenses that folded over one another, with a handy spring that made them easy to open. As you’d assume, Bate’s aim was to create spectacles that were easy to carry and quick to whip out. An admirable deed, no? Well, no. The wording of his patent grant suggests that his focus was on making it quicker for the near-sighted man to see ‘passing objects which excite their attention’, otherwise known as women. 

The Calshot Fold 

The folding frame found global fame on the face of Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair. Now we’re bringing the foldable eyeglass back to its style icon roots, in the finest stainless steel, and with the option of genuine mineral glass lenses for extraordinary clarity of vision.

See more about Calshot Large Fold, or admire its supine siblings, Calshot and Collier.