[Tidbits] Spectacles

Last week’s jeweler: Boucheron.

Oh Grandma what big eyes you have… oops… s’cuse me… it’s the
eyeglasses… wrong fairy tale you see… pardonnez moi.
Stellaaaaa… no no. Wait. I shall start again.

Ever wonder how the workmanship of miniaturization of the ancient
world was accomplished before the invention of glasses? Of course you
have. Who hasn’t? Tiny little knick knacks… jewelry…
porcelains… statuettes… and on and on. Well here’s the theory.
These items were created by people with severe myopia who could see
small object nearer to the eye than normal sighted people could. And
I bet you all thought it was magic.

However… for those of you who live to possess totally useless
knowledge which will never serve any purpose in life other than to
impress your friends with the wealth of which fill the
nooks and crannies of your cockled brain… for you I offer this bit
of wisdom. Seneca… Roman philosopher and tutor to Nero before the
chap learned how to fiddle (A.D. 54-68) noted that tiny letters could
be magnified and made readable by looking at them through
water-filled ball of glass. It works as does a convex lens. Take two
of them… put one behind the other… and you’ve got a telescope.

Still… it was a tad inconvenient to blow some glass… fill it
with water… seal it… and use it as magnifying glass when you
wanted to read something… or create some fine and delicate jewelry
without being blessed with the good fortune of being myopic. Hence…
13th century Italy. A little town called Pisa. I digress and
extrapolate. I would have to believe that once they saw that tower
somebody said… hey… we could use some spectacles here. Ah
necessity. She always rears her head when we need her. Okay. Here it
is… Circa 1280. Two men… coevals and gaffers (gaffers in the
sense of glass blowers) share the honor of being the most likely
candidates for having invented eyeglasses. Their names: Alesandro
Spina and Salvino Armato though evidence slightly favors Salvino. He
was an optical physicist and had impaired vision.

Now that they could see where the land ended and the water began…
the technology traveled to England. By 1326 spectacles were available
for scholars, nobility, and the clergy. By the 14th century the
Italians began to call the glass eye disks used for reading “lentils”
because of their resemblance in shape to the legume. For two hundred
years eyeglasses were known as “glass lentils” and it is from the
word “lentil” that the word “lens” is derived. Who woulda thunk it? I
bet there were many out there who didn’t know whether to put the
“lentil” against their eyes or eat the damn things.

I could go on… but Tidbits is a minimalist ezine which subscribes
to the theory that less is more… and so… to paraphrase Cyrano…
as I end the refrain… I think I’ll go home. I’ll tell you…
trying to be clever ain’t no easy thang.

The good news is I have a pair of spectacles… lorgnettes… made of
gold and diamonds… American in origin (in those days things were
made in the good old USA)… circa 1890…oval shape… decorated in
a foliate pattern. Value is about $3000. Wanna see?

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at http://www.tyler-adam.com where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… and you will see represented on our pages an
image of 14 karat gold and diamond lorgnette.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

I like Benjamin’s ‘titbits’ a nice little quirky aside. With a Loony
Tunes ending.

I heard recently copper tubes have been found in Egypt from Pharonic
times which probably had lenses in them, for astronomy and surveying?

A great deal of truth in what he says, unfortunately many of those
producing these beautiful items were probably children who probably
had a short working life, as with the child carpet weavers and others
who work in semi slave conditions around the world today.