A Brief Introduction to Collecting Eyeglasses

If you are looking for something that isn’t highly collectible enough that everyone is hoarding them, yet has potential buyers that will pay a pretty penny, then you should consider collecting eyeglasses. The days of things like comic books, movie posters and little glass unicorns being enough to pay for your grandchildren’s schooling are over. The secret is out and now everybody and their next door neighbor’s cousin’s first grade school teacher’s ex-boyfriend is collecting McDonald’s Kids Meal toys. Eyeglasses are still regularly tossed in the garbage when they break or, worse, go out of style.

It is those eyeglasses that went out of style that you really want to focus on. The best kinds of eyeglasses for collectability are those that are avant-garde or totally off the wall. The 1960’s and the 1980’s were the high point for eyeglasses that pressed up against the envelope and blew the roof off and kicked out the jams. The cat’s eyes glasses made memorable by Julie Newmar as Catwoman on the old Batman and Robin show are a good place to start. Heck, if you could actually get your hands on an authentic pair of glasses worn by Julie Newmar—the only real Catwoman that ever has or ever will exist—you might well be able to pay for your grandchildren’s schooling.

Failing the ability to get your hands on a pair of Julie Newmar cat’s eyes glasses, take a look for the Eskimo style of glasses that were also popular among some in the 60’s who needed to see less than they needed to be see. Eskimo style glasses are essentially black glasses with a very small slit through which you can see. This style is called Eskimo style because—wait for it—the Eskimos essentially created the eye of sunglasses. The Inuits are credited with inventing sunglasses and why not: they have days that last over 20 hours.

The crazier the glasses, the more likely you are to make money off them. In her book “Collectible Price Guide 2009,” author Judith Miller stakes out a claim that glasses where almost the entire frame are guns sells for up to 200 bucks. Right next to that are some pig-shaped glass frames that Miller claims will sell for 200 bucks as well.

You could also go the route of collecting glasses based on name brand value. Victor Gros, Nina Ricci and Alain Mikli are all names that you might want to look for when taking the path of least creativity. To really get the big bucks down the road, however, you should buy your collectible glasses based on sheer weirdness. Think of glasses the size of Harry Carey or Pop Art glasses or nifty ska glasses with a black and white checkerboard design. The more offbeat and unusual the design of the glasses, the better.

Again according to Judith Miller, the elemental factors to consider when collecting eyeglasses are the style, the condition (of course), and then the name of the designer. The glasses made during the 50’s and 60’s are very popular because they were very stylish. Cat’s eyes are very popular to collect and are easy enough to start with because they were so popular in the 60’s. If you really want to be ahead of the game, start wearing cat’s eyes glasses now because they are really in big bad need of a comeback.

The most valuable are those that at least seem to be totally unique and one-of-a-kind. Look for things like zig-zagging frames and bizarre stylistic flourishes like those slitty Eskimo glasses. Remember when Pee Wee Herman came out and sang “Turning Japanese” and he was wearing Eskimo glasses. If you could get THOSE glasses, they might even be worth more than Julie Newmar’s cat’s eyes Catwoman glasses.