Checking Out the History of Lorgnettes

Checking Out the History of Lorgnettes

16 October

Lorgnette is derived from the French word ‘lorgner’, which means ‘to eye furtively’ or ‘to ogle’. In more contemporary language we might say ‘to check someone out’. Invented in England by George Adams in 1770, lorgnettes became the must-have accessory for ladies during the 1800’s at the theatre and opera. They were used to keep an eye on the action, both on and off stage.  Until the 17th century, optical aids were primarily used by men. However, with the invention of the lorgnette, women became much more involved in the world of eyeglasses. The truth is, lorgnettes were more of a fashion accessory than to improve vision. An 18th century version known as the ‘jealousy’ lorgnette had a small mirror mounted on them which allowed the user to see who was behind her!

Lot 293 from our October is a beautiful Art Deco diamond and onyx pendant, with a concealed lorgnette on the reverse.