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Vintage Glasses Are So Geek!!!

Updated on February 26, 2013

Trendy Nerd Eyeglasses, Geek Eyeglasses, Vintage Eyeglasses, and Retro Eyeglasses

One of the hottest trends in glasses are Nerd Glasses, those retro specs that are also referred to as Geek Glasses or just Old Glasses. Whatever you call them they are now the "cool wearables" in fashion and highly sought after.

Spectacles (or eyeglasses) didn't become fashionable until the 1940s and 1950s when fashion designers took an interest and made them "sexy". Those little round metal framed glasses of the past were revamped with new shapes and materials. In 1948 the first faux tortoise shell glasses were introduced followed by the famous Cat-eyes in 1950. Then came the glamorous Lucite glasses of the 1960s decorated with rhinestones and pearls. Talk about a "hot" commodity, glasses were now being made to be seen not hidden. Movie stars wearing their alluring sunglasses were caught in photos and placed in advertisements causing a mad demand for thglae new eye-ware.

Check out all of the wonderful Vintage Advertisements for eyeglasses that caused such a marketing stir in fashion circles! Enjoy.

Roman Emperor Nero
Roman Emperor Nero

First A Wee Bit of Funny History

Nero was "hot" in his toga and emerald lenses.

The first known eye lenses dates back to 60 A.D.

The Roman Emperor Nero had lenses made of cut emeralds that he wore while viewing gladiator games. How well he could see is questionable but being the Emperor his precious gem spectacles became a fashion hit among the rich trend setters of the time. I guess you could say that he was a fiddle playing "gem" star the predecessor to the modern rock star.

It would be fun to speculate on why he wore them but he must have looked "hot" in his fashionable toga and emerald lenses. After all he set Rome on fire!

The Retro Glasses Version of Nero's Lenses - Nero would have looked good in these!

RayBan Vintage Sunglasses
RayBan Vintage Sunglasses

Retro Specs

Although Nero's emerald gem lenses aren't in style today there are some really "hot" retro glasses available in various colors and styles at very affordable and some very expensive prices.

1949 Sunglasses by American Optical - Very Fanciful and Fun

Vintage 1949 Sunglasses
Vintage 1949 Sunglasses

American Optical, now known as "AO", can date its beginning back to 1826 at which time William Beecher, the companies founder, began an apprenticeship in Providence, Rhode Island, in the jeweler's trade. When he came across a pair of crudely made spectacles he decided that he could make much better ones and put his sights on what he would achieve in his future.

In 1958 American Optical introduced the Flight Goggle 58, now known as the Original Pilot Sunglass was produced for the US military to provide pilots with maximum protection, optical performance and comfort. In 1969 these same glasses were worn by Commander Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 in the first moon landing. The glasses now reside on permanent display in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Another fun tidbit of info is that their Sunvogue sunglasses were worn on the cool bikers in the 1969 movie, Easy Rider, and the hotshot aviators in "Top Gun" wore aviator shaped frames as well.

A pretty cool real American company with their manufacturing facilities in Southbridge, Massachusetts.

SOLAREX Scientific Sun Glasses (1948)

SOLAREX Scientific Sun Glasses (1948)
SOLAREX Scientific Sun Glasses (1948)

This is a May 24,1948 advertisement from Bachman Bros. Inc. of Philadelphia, manufacturer of Solarex sunglasses. The attractive movie star is Ann Sheridan co-star of ""Silver River' A Warner Bros. film also starring Errol Flynn. The Hollywood image helped spur on sales of eyeglasses. Large department stores were introducing full lines of "off the shelf" sunglasses for the first time.

The 1950's Brought in the Big Designers

1950's Geek Glasses
1950's Geek Glasses

Starting in the 1950' big name designers including Christian Dior, Oleg Cassini, and Elsa Schiaparelli, were jumping on the band wagon to introduce new glass frames into the marketplace. Today these high-end glasses are particularly valuable, with prices starting at $150. Vintage models by unknown makers are not as expensive with prices ranging from $25 to $100. The condition of the glass frames is very important, since most collectors want to wear the glasses. Good finds can be found on ebay, vintage glass shops, and Etsy. For remade vintage and retro spectacles Amazon has a large selection.

The Foster-Grant Company was founded in 1919 in Leominster, Massachusetts by Sam Foster and Bill Grant. Their initial business was manufacturing women's hair accessories which quickly became financially successful until the mid-1920s when women cut their locks for the more famous short "roaring 20's bob styles". In 1929 they sold half of the interest in their company to the Goody company, then began manufacturing sunglasses with their first pair being sold at Woolworth's on the famous Boardwalk of Atlantic City. These were the first sunglasses sold as an over-the-counter consumer item.

Their sunglasses quickly became popular among the fun seekers in Atlantic City, then the fad spread quickly across the land. Suddenly movie stars like Greta Garbo were wearing Foster-Grants and even the king of Egypt sported a pair. The image of sunglasses changed completely. You didn't have to have weak vision to wear them, they became "sexy" and mysterious with a touch of intrigue. They had an air of luxury in a time when people had little, it was during the Great Depression that Foster-Grant began their claim to fame.

1958-Foster Grant Ad

1958 Nerd Glasses
1958 Nerd Glasses


1959 retro specs
1959 retro specs

1968 Foster Grant Advertisement

1968 spectacles
1968 spectacles


Retro Vintage Sunglasses
Retro Vintage Sunglasses

1976 The BIG Look is In!

1976 vintage glasses
1976 vintage glasses

Frame Your Thoughts Here - Thanks for stopping by!

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    • jdwheeler profile image


      6 years ago

      I proudly wear my nerd glasses everyday!

    • KandH profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice one! born in '76 and think the big glasses look from that year is very cool - great perspective on retro/vintage for "geeks" :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Some of them are pretty geeky....

    • timelapselove profile image


      7 years ago

      Great looking lens! I dig the vintage ads. Keep up the good work!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These are beautiful glasses. I would love to have these.

    • seanjennin profile image


      7 years ago

      Cool, too geek for me, Lol! Love Raquel Welch though! She is awesome!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Have a daughter that is very much in to older sunglasses... she recently found one of the orig ray-ban torties.. and wears them every where... cool lens...

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      7 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Vintage glasses are cool - I'd like to chew on a plastic pair sometime -:) Ruff!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love these old ads. It was great to see Ann Sheridan in one of the images. She's one of my favorite classic film stars.

    • grandma deal profile image

      grandma deal 

      7 years ago

      I recognized my Mom's old glasses on here. Wonder if she ever knew how cool she was? I don't think I could wear any of these glasses. It would be like deja vu. But I did enjoy the lens. A fun look at eyewear.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Loved the vintage looks of 1959 -cool vintage glasses.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      7 years ago from Iowa

      Lots of fun and showcases how fashion trends do recycle. :)

    • encouragingwords profile image


      7 years ago

      Super fun lens!

    • retta719 profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Great picks! I've been looking for a retro-ish pair of cats eyes glasses for awhile now, but haven't found "the perfect pair" quite yet.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Wow. I hadn't thought of vintage glasses in a modern way but I think they are a great idea!

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 

      7 years ago from Corona, CA

      Great lens! Seems like what's old is new again. I see some of these styles. I think glasses have really evolved back into a fashion statement like never before.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice lens - fun. I have lensrolled it to my eyeware lens.

    • norma-holt profile image


      7 years ago

      My freaky glasses worn at university in the 60's are still in my drawer and I freak out every time I come across them. Great lens and featured on Collection of Gift Ideas

    • QuiltFinger profile image


      7 years ago from Tennessee

      WOW! Great lens. I've always been fascinated by the vintage glasses. I remember seeing the old black and white family photos from the 50s where the really fashionable women wore those extreme cateye glasses. It was also really fun trying on my grandma's old pair of fold-up travel sunglasses from the 70s. Those thing were huge. How fun!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Cool, I love retro! Dig those Ray Bans man!

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 

      7 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I remember the big glasses look. I even had a pair of them! It's neat to know about vintage glasses frames. I will be on the lookout for them.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love the retro glasses! I have seen many pictures of my Mom wearing them when she was a teenager........ Really cool!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, well done and fascinating! I guess I don't get out much, so I don't get to follow the trends. Looks to me like geek and retro re now chic! They say every fashion comes around. I did hear someone say that they had brought their grandpa's frames in and the lab fitted lenses with their RX in them. I thought that was pretty cool.

      Speaking of cool, my security word is "geekzoom"!

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 

      7 years ago from Quezon City

      Very nicely done lens on vintage/retro glasses! I enjoyed the trivia about Nero and his emerald shades (whodathunkit?) and I really like the vintage ads you used to show the fashion in each decade. ~Blessed~


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