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Fashion: Quizzing Glasses

A few facts about the fashion of quizzing glasses

No fashionable young lady or gentleman would be seen without a quizzing glass around their neck, regardless of how splendid was their eyesight.

The standard quizzing glass featured a short-sighted lens intended to sharpen and clarify objects at a distance, but anyone with the means could have the lens replaced with a corrective lens to reduce or magnify, or even use a plain glass for decoration.

The intention was not so much to see at a distance as it was to be seen looking at something. In this respect, there was a kind of "language" with the lens, a social theatrical that spoke volumes--did the "quizzer" (ie the person holding the quizzing glass) study their object with a thorough head-to-toe perusal? Did the quizzer merely raise the glass but not to the eye, as though they could not be bothered for a more assessing study? Did they hold the glass overlong?

In 1830, the lorgnette (which had been around since the 18th century but not popular) became the popular choice among women, while gentlemen held fast to the quizzing glass. In the early 20th century, both lorgnette and quizzing glass were tossed aside for the monocle. While these all could be used with corrective lenses, especially for those who did not want to be seen wearing eyeglasses, they were predominately fashion accessories.

Enjoy these posts for more detail:

Fashion Studies: Ogling, Quizzing, and Spying

Candice Hern: Quizzing Glasses

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