Delightful article on the history of the lorgnette, the predecessor to modern spectacles by Mim Matthews.
A lorgnette is, quite simply, a pair of spectacles mounted on a handle. The precursor to modern opera glasses, lorgnettes were a common sight during the 19th century at the theater as well as the opera. And since the name lorgnette derives from the French word lorgner – meaning “to ogle” or “to eye furtively” – one can only imagine the many uses to which a curious socialite in the balcony might have put them. Whether employed to sneakily spy on a rival across the way, stealthily investigate a young gentleman down in the pit, or to merely watch the action on the stage, a lorgnette was an indispensable accessory for the 19th century lady about town.
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