Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vintage & Antique Eyewear: What to "LOOK" For

With many retro-styled reproductions of vintage eyewear -- both mens military issue style and women's cateye frames -- on the market, and yes, even on etsy, it's easy to be fooled by a convincing vintage-looking pair of eyeglasses. However, there are some things you can look out for if you're interested in getting a good pair of frames that will withstand the test of time, and possibly even the hands of a grabby toddler!
It's probably not vintage, IF:
**It says "China" anywhere on the frame
**It is marked with a website URL name anywhere on the frame
**It comes with clear plastic / fake lenses. Granted these are easy to remove, so this is not a hard and fast rule.
**It has no mark, no brand name, and no size marking on the frames or the arms (bows/temples). Note that some sellers "name drop" a brand name or style name in the listing -- if it's not clearly stated in the listing, ask the seller whether the frames are marked. Note, some antique or vintage frames may not be clearly marked, or the mark may have worn off, but in these cases, the frames will more than likely be holding a former owner's pair of prescription lenses (instant 'provenance'!)
**It has the words 'hand polished' written on it. (Zoom on the pix to see details)
**If the seller uses the word "retro" in the listing, it may not be vintage (also not a hard & fast rule -- some may be unaware of the shades of difference and this is perfectly understandable)
**If the frames have no wear, then a real vintage / antique pair should generally come marked with a brand name, imprint, tag, or envelope.
**If you have any questions -- ASK before buying!

What's the difference? Well, they may look the same in some ways, BUT cheap repros are cheap for a reason: they may not be made for serious everyday wear. They may not be made of materials that are of professional quality, that can withstand the usual heating and movement generally required during a professional opthalmic fitting. The metal studs on the face of those g-man style frames may be made of chromed plastic -- they may be simply decorative, and fall off at some point. The rhinestones may not be crystal at all but cheap plastic that is considerably less glossy, and factory-embedded into a plastic molded frame. The shape of the cat-eye may be less iconic than vintage fifties eyewear; the rhinestones may be formed in a typical diamond shape at each corner (very rectilinear). Finally, they may not be intended for prescription lenses at all. The frames below are not vintage, but the linked vendor clearly states this.

1 comment:

propriatress said...

thanks for a great post....funkoma vintage is all about the vintage eyewear...If you are gonna get a prescription put in, they gotta be the best quality vintage frames...most modern eyeglass frames, not so good for re-use. ;-(