Nadja Maril

Value of Antique Eyeglasses

In Antiques on February 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Dear Ms. Maril.
I have four pairs of antique glasses and would be interested in finding today’s market price for them. If you could help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it.
M.H.

Response:

It’s a funny thing about antiques. Value is not necessarily associated with age per se. More important is popularity. And when it comes to something like eyeglasses, collectors are interested in usability. How else can you explain the fact that eyeglassses that are fifty years old are in many cases much more valuable in the marketplace than eyeglasses that are 150 years old. Go figure. I think it does have something to do with the fact that you can wear the newer vintage glasses by either inserting your prescription lens or wearing them with clear glass to be stylish. Just read the following descripting of one pair of $499 glasses that have sold out, currently being advertised online:
“This is the coveted Tart Optical Arnel in Amber. The Arnel Amber is the hottest piece in the vintage eyewear market today. Although the Arnel has been around for years, the frame had become famous recently, specifically because it was worn by Johnny Depp in Secret Window, along with the many pairs he wears off screen. Other celebrities, such as Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Jeff Goldblum have been seen wearing the Tart Arnel. These authentic Tart Arnel’s feature the famous spear shields on the front and temples, and the “oTe” shield stamp on the inside of the temples. The bag that the frame was originally shipped in is included. “
Wow, $499 for a pair of old glasses. Unfortunately, unless the frames are 14kt gold, and maybe one pair of yours is gold, the value of pewter and steel spectacles from the 19th century is running in the neighborhood of $40- $80. That’s a retail price, which means if you were to sell them to a dealer you would probably only receive half of that figure. There are some unique styles that command more money, but a specialty dealer would need to make that assessment. I noticed in my perusing on the web that there are many such dealers, including one in Maine that has a very large inventory of all types and styles of antique and vintage eyewear. I would recommend contacting some of these companies if you are desirous of selling your glasses. Otherwise they make a fun conversation piece, particularly if you have the history on which family ancestor wore a particular pair of glasses and when they wore them.

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  1. I have a pair of old glasses. They look to be clip on, but not sunglasses. How do you tell how old or who made them?

    • You will need to send a digital image for comment. Thanks for your comments.

      • Hi, I have two pairs of glasses one pair is in the case with a label The viopake lenses they belong to mary doering and the date inside is 8/15/1940 they were given to me many years ago..they are gold the outside of the case saids M. H. Harris 25 offices in ne York and other cities.

      • For values on “vintage glasses” under 100 years old, you will probably need to consult a dealer who sells this type of eyewear. If you google with the words “vintage eyeglasses” a number of dealers come up.
        Good luck.

  2. I have a pair of old glasses that I have a picture of . Would like to know the value of them and the year they was made . Could you please give me a e-mail address to send picture to . Thank you

  3. You must take part in a contest for the most effective blogs on the web. I’ll recommend this site!

  4. Today everyone is melting down the gold filled pairs, like the one one the top left, getting around $30 per pair. Not worth ruining an antique for that price.

  5. I would like to send a picture of the two pairs I have, one is extended frame and the other is a pencher. I am interested in selling them. Can you put me in contact with someone who may be inerested?
    lcwpc234@aol.com

  6. Is there anything special about a pair of Buhl Optical Co. 10% 12K Gold Filled glasses with an estimated purchase between 1935 and 1940? What is the estimated value for insurance purposes if you will hazard a guess?

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