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.