Simply put, a lorgnette is a pair of spectacles (glasses) mounted on a handle. The word comes from the French lorgne which means “to take a sidelong look at”. Lorngettes were invented in England by George Adams circa 1770 and remained popular into the early 1800’s as more elegant forms were created.

Ostensibly used by women to improve their vision, in truth they were more often a fashion accessory. They were popular at masquerade parties and when attending the opera or the theater. An 18th century version known as ‘jealousy’ lorngettes had a small mirror mounted on them, which allowed the user to see who was behind her. Other unusual examples of lorngettes include those with fans cleverly folded into them or rare “watch lorgnettes”.

Imagine owning your own pair of Art Nouveau lorngettes on a chain around your neck and when your friends pull out their reading glasses you simply open your lorngettes to read the menu! This pair were made by Krementz, based in Newark, New Jersey when it was the center of jewelry-making in the United States.