Hinged spectacle case for T R Procter

Catalogue Number: 2773
Hinged spectacle case for T R Procter
Category: Spectacles and lenses
Sub-Category: Spectacle case
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: Undated. Possibly 1888
Time Period: 19th C
Description Of Item: Wooden spectacle case, lozenge shaped, 120 x 55 mm, with hinged lid and press button for opening, covered with black grained leather or leatherette and lined inside with dark blue velvet on the base and violet satin under the lid. The top of the lid is gold-stamped with an impression of the British coat of arms above a cartouche bearing T. R. PROCTER / OCULIST / OPTICIAN / / MELBOURNE
Historical Significance: This spectacle case is of particular interest because Thomas R Procter (1826-1905) practised optometry in East Melbourne from 1888 having previously lived and worked in Bendigo, Geelong, Ballarat, and in New Zealand from 1862 to 1888. He claims to be an oculist and optician on this spectacle case and to be an 'Oculist, optician, and scientific ophthalmologist' in a treatise he wrote on optical diseases of the eye that was published in Melbourne by T Smith and Co Printers Ltd. (See cat No 2406 for a copy of this treatise). It was not uncommon for opticians to claim to be oculists in the 19th century (See Cole BL History of Australian optometry p 32), although sometimes with an apostrophe (oculists' optician) suggesting they were favoured by oculists for dispensing their prescriptions, but often without the apostrophe suggesting something else entirely. Procter was born in England in 1826 and came to Australia in 1849 arriving in Adelaide. He went gold digging in Castlemaine in 1851 but then set up business as a jeweller first in Bendigo, then Geelong and then Ballarat. By all accounts he was a fine silversmith, exhibiting his work and winning prizes. (See extract from'Early Australian Silversmiths' and other papers filed with Cat No 2406). He was also something of an engineer, building a steam engine for water pumps to drain mines. He returned to England in 1857 reportedly to study medicine to learn about diseases of the eye, although nowhere does he claim medical qualifications. He then travelled to New Zealand where after 15 years trading as a jeweller and watchmaker trained himself in sight testing, at first using an optometer, and set up a lens grinding laboratory with the assistance of a London trained optician, William Pugh who was his employee, that enabled him to make spectacles to prescription. This occurred in 1877 and he was the first sight testing optician in New Zealand. In 1881 he was testing for astigmatism and supplying cylindrical lenses to correct it, another first in New Zealand. He returned to Australia in 1888 to practice at 388 Albert Street East Melbourne. He trained Queensland optometrist, Alfred Greenfield (1864-1930), a New Zealander who migrated to Australia in 1887. Greenfield introduced the sight testing methods he had learned from Procter, and like Procter also set up a lens grinding workshop, and in doing so was the first to bring modern optometry to Queensland.
How Acquired: Donated by Pamela Sutton, honorary archivist
Date Acquired: Dec 2015
Condition: Good
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 4 Drawer 5

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