Catalogue Number: 2838
Shagreen pull-off spectacle case of Chinese origin
Category: Spectacles and lenses
Sub-Category: Spectacle case
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: Late 1800s
Time Period: 19th C
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: China
Description Of Item: Papier-mache (?) base, 160 x 65 mm, covered in green shagreen (shark skin) made in two sections with one third of the length of the case being a pull-off top. At the bottom of the case is a hook attached to which is a decorative green silk tassel. There is a hole at the top of the pull-off section through which a cord was once threaded and possibly connected to the bottom hook so the two parts would have been secured together when the top was pulled off. On the front of the top part there is a red wax export seal
Historical Significance: The case is quite large when at the time spectacles in Europe were usually quite small. According to the Antique Spectacles website at http://www.antiquespectacles.com/topics/discoveries/discoveries.htm 'In the Far East, spectacles had a different development. They were brought in by Western European merchants and missionaries in the early 15th century. The larger the spectacles the more influential the man since they reflected social status more than a need for vision correction. In Asia, these eyeglasses were attached to the ears by loops of cord; a concept originally noted around 1500 in Spain and called threaded (thread loop) spectacles. Occasionally weights were applied to the end of the cords which then hung over the back of the ears.'
How Acquired: Purchased by Kett Optometry Museum from Graham Geddes, antique dealer
Date Acquired: April 2016
Condition: Good except for the missing cord.
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 4 Drawer 5