Catalogue Number: 1730
FITS-U eyeglasses (bridge fitting set)
Sub-Category: Dispensing tool
Time Period: 1900 to 1939
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Southbridge, Mass, USA
Publisher/Manufacturer: American optical Company
Description Of Item: Pince-nez bridge fitting set. Green fabric covered timber box 139 x 285 mm with fabric coverd fold-out lid, felt lined interior fitted to hold 12 rimless pince-nez. There were 10 pince-nez in the set (2 missing) with oval shaped lenses. Eight have silver metal sadde bridge fingerpieces. The right lenses of the 8 are marked with a cross and a three digit number and the right lenses are marked with a cross, the word FITS-U and 4 digit numbers. Two of the pince-nez do not belong to the original set: they have flat rather than menicus lenses, are marked differently and one has a gold metal fingerpiece. Inside the lid is a paste down label with a photograph of a woman holding a pince-nez and the words 'Fits-U Eyeglasses Patented. SHORT BRIDGE' This label also has a Table giving the dimensions that correspond to the code numbers on the lenses and a text explanation of the fitting and numeric ordering system.
Historical Significance: The trial fingerpiece set was an optician's tool to fit patients with an appropriate pince-nez. This set was probably made by the American Optical Company since the company is known to have made such sets using the brand name FITS-U. See http://pincenez1.blogspot.com/2008/03/trial-fingerpiece-set.html. The "Fits-U" trial fingerpiece sets were made from 1903 to about 1930 by the American Optical in Southbridge, Massachussetts. Smaller makers such as Perfex and Shur-On also made pince-nez fitting sets. There are three different factors determining fit of pince-nez: 1) interpupillary distance, 2) height of the bridge, and 3) inclination of the crest of the bridge. These parameters are designated in the three digit number on each lens, The first digit of the three digit number indicates pupillary distance in the unit of 1/16th inch, the second digit indicates the height of the bridge (also in 1/16 inch units) and the third digit indicates the inclination of the bridge beyond the plane of the lenses. See Cat No 1729 for another example.
How Acquired: Not known
Condition: Very good
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 2 Drawer 1