Traite de con uite de la famille

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Wearing modern spectacles does achieve the aims of this document in examining image creation, because each pair of spectacles conveys a different perspective of the wearer. In this section, the focus is on French modern spectacles that are hand-built by Alain Mikli and his team in France. Most modern spectacles utilize automated manufacturing and plastic injection molding processes to bring frame pricing to very competitive levels. Unfortunately, these frames loose something in the style that is present in the original zyl designs in the 1950s and 1960s: a custom feel about them. As we have seen in various examples, the custom feel might be the frame shape, temple design, motifs on the frame, images and weight to name a few. With the Alain Mikli frames, a combination of steel and custom colored acetate is hand-worked to create a series of unique material colors in the spectacle frame and temples [4]. Exhibits GG and HH show a number of different designs that can convey simple image messages; For example, Exhibit GG could be conveying a ‘split personality’ or just simply ‘fun’, and Exhibit HH ‘Brown or Blue clothes today’. A few more of these are shown in Exhibit II, where nine different Mikli frames are collaged to show the variance of an image creation using modern spectacles. In this Exhibit, the images could be conveying ‘Who shall I be today?’ meaning that the wearer can choose how the image should be created. Interestingly, this image can be enhanced by wearing different frames either on a daily or bi-daily basis. The age of the spectacles can be varied as well as shown by the collage in Exhibit JJ. In this exhibit there are three modern and one pair of antique spectacles. The fun begins when they are all worn in a single day (clockwise from the top-left): English antique pince-nez for the afternoon drive, Modern French Alain Mikli for the office meeting in morning, Modern German IC Berlin for the afternoon meeting outside the office and lastly, Modern Austrian Reiz Augenspeil for dinner in the evening. Lastly, in Exhibit KK, the author is shown creating a number of different images using a wide spectrum of spectacles.

Exhibit II
(Who shall I be today?)

Exhibit JJ
(Who should I be during the day?)


In concluding this work, the biggest and most difficult challenge has been finding antique spectacles in pristine condition. Typically hinges are often weak and broken, and on many pairs of spectacles, the lenses cannot be removed at all. Sometimes the screws are rusted or corroded or even cross-threaded, and in many cases screws are not used at all, and rivets are in place. Clearly, noble metals are easier to work with, but sometimes the softness of the metal does accelerate wear and tear on the hinges. As a rule, lenses are not removed if the screws are in poor condition or the original lenses are riveted. In other materials such as tortoise and/or horn, the older the material is, the more brittle and fragile it becomes. A good example of this would be Martin’s Margins where the inner annulus is often cracked, chipped and/or broken. The summary would be to apply extreme attention to detail when working with antique spectacles.

Exhibit KK

 The golden rules are to preserving and wearing antique spectacles might then become:
a) Keep the cases and lenses for future use
b) Never throw anything away (wrapper, details, prescription papers, etc)
c) Try and find replacement parts if possible as many are often broken
d) Locate craftsman who are knowledgeable in the trade of antique spectacles, and can maintain the integrity of the spectacles, lenses and piece parts.


Wearing antiques spectacles can be fun, however, the spectacles represent a unique set of challenges that require a special level of tender loving care. Choosing the right pair of antique spectacles to wear means closely checking hinges, temples and frame condition in addition to style and image creation. Once suitable pairs of spectacles have been found, a unique image can be created that offers a high level of respect in the community.

BASIC KEY ADVICE: Preserve the lenses, and respect the frames. Use penetrating oil to soften the joint if necessary prior to removing the old lenses. If you are at all uncertain, don’t try to wear that particular pair. Just keep them in your collection as is.

The Author

Michael Lebby is a collector of spectacles who wears his collection as part of everyday life. He continually is looking to find pristine examples of antique, old, retro and modern spectacles that offer new and exciting images and perceptions. He is a member of OAICC UK) and OHS (USA). He practices as an internationally renowned fiber optics and optoelectronics engineer/scientist. He has written and published extensively in the fiber optics field and has over 200 issued patents in the field of optics. Currently he spends much of his time lecturing all over the world as Executive Director of the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association.


[1] Ignis Optics, Inc (which was acquired by Bookham Technology PLC late 2003), designs and manufactures very high speed fiber optic modems which are used in Central Office switches and network routers that are typically run by telephone companies and internet providers. This segment of the optics industry is based on sub-micron (thousandths of a centimeter) alignment of semiconductor lasers to fiber optic cable. When data is sent from a computer, the chances are that somewhere in the network, the data will pass through a light emitting laser diode that has to be aligned to a fiber accurately so that data can pass without interruption.
[2] Private discussions with Fletcher Wallis, London dealer of antique spectacles and scientific instruments
[3] Private discussions with Debbie Shearer, Pennsylvania, Dispensing Optician, ABO
[4] Private discussions with Alain Mikli, Spectacle Designer, Paris, France

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