Chinese eyesight and spectacles

Catalogue Number: 3451
Chinese eyesight and spectacles
Category: Book
Sub-Category: Booklet
Author: RASMUSSEN Otto Durham
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 1949 ?
Edition: 4th edition
Time Period: 1940 to 1999
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Tonbridge, UK
Publisher/Manufacturer: Tonbridge Free Press Ltd (printer)
Description Of Item: Printed red paper wrapper, 220 x 135 mm. centre fold stapled, 64 pages, black and white illustrations through text.
Historical Significance: Otto Durham Rasmussen (1888-1970) FBOA FSMC was the first and only western trained optometrist to examine the eyes and prescribe glasses for an Emperor of China. This occurred in 1926 as a home visit to the Forbidden City. This story is told in this booklet along with other accounts of Rasmussen's experiences and learnings gained while providing optometric care in Peking. The booklet provides information about the myths and superstitions about the eyes and sight held by the Chinese in the 1920s and their manners and customs.The emperor was Puyi (1906-1967), the last emperor of China. He was deposed in 1912 but was allowed to continue to hold his title and live in the Forbidden City. A photograph in Puyi's Wikipedia entry taken in 1934 shows him wearing glasses. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PuyiOtto Rasmussen was born in Melbourne, Australia, to a father born in Denmark and a mother born in New South Wales Australia. He was the oldest of 9 children. The family moved to China in the early 1900s. In the 1920s they moved to California USA. There Otto Rasmussen met and married Alcy Orma Stuart (b Kurling, China 1890) who was in the USA for further education. It is reported that Otto studied optometry while in California, which could have been at the University of California where an optometry course began in 1923 or the school in Los Angeles founded in 1904 by Marshall Ketchum. They returned to China presumably about 1924 or 1925 where Rasmussen practised optometry. They divorced about 1930 and Rasmussen settled in England to practice optometry in Tonbridge, Kent. This may have been in 1929 because it is known that he passed the examinations to become a Fellow of the British Optical Association (FBOA) and of the Company of Spectacle Makers (FSMC) in December 1929. Other sources suggest that he did not settle in England until about 1939. He allowed his membership of the British Optical Association lapse in 1935 and he resumed it in 1941. The records seem to indicate that he may not have paid his membership subscription until the introduction of the NHS supplementary ophthalmic services in 1949. However, he is firmly recorded as an optometrist in practice in the Blue Book of Opticians published April 1939. He was registered for the practice of optometry in 1960 when the Opticians Registration Act took effect and continued to be registered until the year of his death.Rasmussen also wrote 'Old Chinese Spectacles,' 1915, 'Tientsin: An Illustrated History,' 1925, 'The Reconquest of Asia,' 1934, 'Thesis on the Cause of Myopia,' 1949. Sources: Glenda McKercher Otto Durham Rasmussen b. 1888 - d. England?. Geneology.com. January 22, 2005 http://www.genealogy.com/forum/regional/countries/topics/englandcountry/91308/Personal communication Neil Handley, Curator BOA Museum, College of Optometrists, UK
How Acquired: Donated by Michael Aitken, honorary archivist
Date Acquired: Aug 2017
Condition: Good
Location: Archive office. Pamphlet and ephemera filing cabinet. Drawer 8

Search the archive:

Author or Inventor:
Catalogue #
Name of Donor