“…the inevitable lorgnette, the enemy of other people’s privacy.”
–Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Lorgnettes, spectacles held in place by long handles rather than resting on the bridge of one’s nose, were popular accessories amongst members of high society from the late 18th Century until the 1920s. Though they were designed to refine one’s vision, creative ingenuity and artful designs in the early 19th Century have made them stunning works of art and highly sought after collectors’ pieces. Many famous historical figures and members of the French aristocracy have wielded these accessories while attending sports tournaments, galas, theatrical performances, and of course, dinner parties. Despite their artistry and prolific use, over time they became seen as sordid instruments, likely stemming in no small part to the name being derived from the French word lorgner, meaning to wantonly stare or ogle. With lorgnettes donned, bored elites’ whispers of scandals and suspected infidelities fluttered throughout the era’s societal gatherings.
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