Featured Victorian/Georgian-era Quizzing Glasses

Discussion in 'Silver' started by Shangas, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. Shangas

    Shangas Underage Antiques Collector and Historian

    I won this lot at my very first night-auction at my local auction-house. Was very, very excited! I've been chasing after a quizzing glass for damn near 10 years and now I have FOUR to choose from! Three are sterling silver and one of them is pinchbeck brass. One of them is not that old I don't think, but the others are all early Victorian or late Georgian in style.

    The lot also came with two pairs of lorgnettes in gold-filled brass. They don't interest me much, so I'm going to try and sell those off. A friend of mine recovering from eye-surgery is already thinking of buying one so that she can have them fitted out as reading-glasses :) But I'm keeping the quizzers for myself!!

    q01.jpg q02.jpg q03.jpg
  2. Bakersgma

    Bakersgma Well-Known Member

    Interesting terminology, which I have not heard before. Is it an Oz thing or British?
  3. daveydempsey

    daveydempsey Moderator Moderator

  4. Bakersgma

    Bakersgma Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Davey. So they are what we call over the pond "magnifying glasses?"
  5. i need help

    i need help Well-Known Member

  6. Shangas

    Shangas Underage Antiques Collector and Historian

    A quizzing glass was a popular Georgian and Victorian-era accessory. They're small pocket-sized magnifying glasses. Exactly why they attained the name QUIZZING GLASS, I'm not sure, but that is the correct term for them.
  7. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Guess if you had a question about something small you were looking at, you quizzed it.

    Is the pendant on the left in the second photo a vinaigrette?
  8. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    The 2 in the last photo appear to have moving parts. What do they do?
  9. Shangas

    Shangas Underage Antiques Collector and Historian

    I think I said that they were quizzing glasses and lorgnettes.
  10. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    Now you need to find a nice Claude Glass.
    scoutshouse likes this.
  11. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    I acquired this one at an estate sale for a connoisseur of miniature antique sewing tools. I needed a loupe, claimed it and started using it on the spot - Not able to inspect it with itself(?) I assumed it was Goldette. I didn't figure out til later - when I noticed the raw beveling on the glass - it may have been something that she wore in her research.

    Anyways - how can you tell yours is pinchbeck. @Shangas ?

    This was on a long watch chain. Yours are so great!

    Quizzer and Earrings6.jpg Quizzer and Earrings5.jpg
    kyratango, Shangas and i need help like this.
  12. Shangas

    Shangas Underage Antiques Collector and Historian

    "Pinchbeck" is the name given to a type of high-gloss/high-polished glittering gold-coloured alloy of copper and zinc.

    Basically it's brass. Very very shiny, specially-formulated brass. I believe it had a higher zinc content than normal, so as to give it a brighter shine and to prevent tarnishing (it's the copper content in brass that makes it tarnish).

    It was invented in the 1700s by Christopher Pinchbeck, as a cheaper imitation of gold (at the time, the only gold purity available was 18k, which is obviously bloody expensive).

    Pinchbeck has no hallmarks though, obviously. So if it looks like gold and hallmarks it don't have, then it's probably brass. And if it's as old as the Georgian era or early Victorian era, then it's most likely pinchbeck brass. Or at least that's what my research tells me.

    You have a lovely example there, also likely made of pinchbeck. I've started wearing my silver glass on a silver watch chain, and my pinchbeck one on a brass, gold-filled watch-chain.
    kyratango, Figtree3 and i need help like this.
  13. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    Thanks - I love it, but don't really wear it anymore. It's a little bendy, and I don't want to have to keep bending it back! Plus, the lens is a little scratched :(

    It's said that the Pinchbecks (father and son) ended up clearly marking their work, they knew the name was being used without the formula they had invented... So, I wouldn't be so sure mine is... but then again - I've never seen a piece of Pinchbeck "clearly labeled" :)

    I took it to a jeweler - he didn't actually know anything about pinchbeck. The bezel tests 14k and the ornamental elements 10k. Since I wouldn't let him cut into it, he looked at it at length and found a very tiny amount of green, which he indicated to mean it was heavily plated... So I guess it's not Pinchbeck, after ALL THAT! lol

    This is a computer screenshot of a phone screenshot from a magnifier app (!)
    Sorry, I forgot who to credit for that!

    Screenshot 2018-12-08 12.06.22.png
    Figtree3 and i need help like this.
  14. Lecollectionneur

    Lecollectionneur Well-Known Member

    The french name used by commercial antiquities sellers or auctioneers is “face à main“ for the item to the left you ask about, in french "lorgnette" is a small telescope used in theater, called too "jumelles de theatre" and which you can acquire new until today.
    Those ancient magnifying glasses are more rare than the others optical helps from the past like the "face à main".
    i need help likes this.
  15. *crs*

    *crs* Well-Known Member

    Interesting term. Learn something new every day. Appears to be a precursor to a loupe but larger.
    i need help likes this.
  16. Lecollectionneur

    Lecollectionneur Well-Known Member

    It was what we called toaday a loupe, made for reading or looking something you can't see without glasses.
    I have one dating from the beginning of the 20th century in the same quality.
    i need help and *crs* like this.
  17. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    Beautiful -- and once again, I learned a lot.
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