Pince Nez Spectacles with gold pin and chain, and ear pin in case

T. Gaunt & Co. Pty.Ltd. (Thomas Gaunt & Co.) (estab. 1868, closed 1960)
Circa 1900
Pince nez, from the French words for “pinch” and “nose,” are held in place by literally pinching the wearer’s nose instead of with temples that rest over the ears. Although glasses of this shape have existed since Medieval times, opticians began to design them to contemporary standards in the 1840s. By the last decade of the 19th century, pince nez eyeglasses were the height of style.

These eyeglasses had smaller lenses that rested close to the nose, giving them a distinctive look. Their ability to be easily put on and taken off worked well with fashions of the time in which continuously wearing glasses was unattractive.
Pince nez glasses had a reputation for falling off. Their style also meant they were not constantly worn, but rather affixed when the wearer needed to reach or see an object far off. As a result, it was fashionable to wear pince nez attached to clothing by a chain so they were at hand when needed.
Worn between 1840 to 1920, when manufacturers stopped producing them.

From a collection of glasses formerly worn by Mrs M. Hassett (1891-1983) and her husband. The Glasses were worn from the early 1900s until 1983. They were originally obtained form optometrists in Warrnambool, Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne, the most noted being Thomas Gaunt & Co. (Melbourne, Australia), late 19th century manufacturer and retailer of jewellery, clocks, watches and decorative items.
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Object detail

Glass, gold (plated) (spectacles); paper cardboard, velvet, metal (case)
5.8 x 11.9 x 0.9 cm (spectacles with the ear pin) 5.3 x 12.4 x 0.9 cm (case)
Accession Number
Credit line
Gift of Su Bradfield, 2021
Medical History Museum Category


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