Market Lavington Museum

Pince nez – nose pinchers


We have a lot of photographs at Market Lavington Museum, taken professionally by village photographer, Alf Burgess, and later by his sons, Burgess bros. However, it is extremely rare to see anyone wearing spectacles in those early pictures. Here is an exception.

Glasses lady snip

This late Victorian image clearly shows a lady wearing a  fashionable hat, who is also posing with her glasses on. Take a closer look at her face and you will see that her spectacles have no arms supporting the frames on her ears.

glasses lady close up

She is wearing a pince nez, in fashion in late Victorian and Edwardian times. This French term indicates that the spectacles are held in place by lightly pinching the nose. On the left of the picture, we can see the chain that could attach the pince nez to her ear or to her clothing, perhaps using a pin or a buttonhole.

At the museum, we have a pince nez in our 20 20 Vision display. The sprung bridge ensures a tight grip onto the nose (or piece of white foam in our display) to prevent them from slipping off.

pince nez snip

See also A Victorian Eye Bath