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Lorgnettes, Bologna, Italy, 1857

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Credit: Lorgnettes, Bologna, Italy, 1857. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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The upper and middle classes in the 1800s favoured lorgnettes. These spectacles distinguished the wearer from cheaper, plainer designs. Lorgnettes are designed to be handheld. These are ornately carved from ivory. Ivory was expensive. Such a high level of craftsmanship indicates a wealthy owner. Only the wealthy could afford custom-made glasses. The lenses fold in half at the nose bridge and then slot into the handle. They are kept in place with a catch. The case has a carved fish design with a mother of pearl centre. The case lid snaps shut and is kept in place by a catch. The size and delicate decoration of the spectacles indicate a female owner. Printed inside the case are the maker’s name, Ernesto, and his place of work, Bologna, Italy. maker: Ernesto Place made: Bologna, Bologna province, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

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