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The Collectors: Vintage Eyeglasses

Dec 8, 2011

by rikrak handmade and vintage goods

What does your collection say about your personal aesthetic? Does it reflect your love of kitsch or all things mid-century modern? Do you adore rustic or favor things from the Edwardian era?

This wonderful collection of vintage eyeglasses offers a liberating counter-question: why choose only one style when you can reinvent yourself every day?

Who are you?
I’m Laurie of Magpie Ethel. I’m a stay-at-home mom who loves vintage, estate sales and crafting. I call myself a vintage crafter as I craft primarily with vintage finds. I live in Portland, Oregon in an old house filled with estate sale goodies and lots of charm and collections.

What are you collecting?
Today I am showing off my collection of vintage eyewear.

When did you start?
I have gone to estate sales for years and have picked them up here and there if the price is right.

How many do you have?
I have about 10 or 12 pairs. I also collect vintage sunglasses that I display with the other glasses.

Where do you keep them?
I keep them in a metal bowl in my sitting room. I have never figured out a great way to display them in my little house.


What’s an interesting story behind one?
I used to wear a pair of vintage tortoise shell frames in college. The lenses were a crazy prescription that made me dizzy if I wore them, so I popped out the lenses and just wore the frames. I wear contacts, so I would just wear the frames to give me that cool, retro nerdy look. This was in the ’80s.

What piece would you like to add?
I would love to add some that are more wild or crazy with rhinestones in a cat eye style.

Why do you love them?
I think they’re just fun to wear. You can wear glasses as a disguise — most of these make you look entirely different.

Which one is your favourite?
I probably like the ones with the colored frames the best — especially the pink frames.

What else do you collect?
I collect a ton of things and have many, many collections. I do a weekly post called “Collection Challenge” on my blog where I feature a different collection each week and I just passed my 80th post on collections! I think I may rename thsee posts “Hoarders Challenge.” Some of my past entries have been about vintage drinking straws, vintage squeaky rubber toys and old advertising spoons. I collect things that make me smile and many of them have a strong graphic appeal.

Charming! Thanks so much!

Laurie’s wonderful shop showcases both her delightfully eclectic personal crafting style and her fabulous personality. It’s a veritable wonderland of whimsical bygone eras. And her lovely blog is a happy place where styles brilliantly intersect (you should see all of her collections!).


  • RossLab

    RossLab said 8 years ago

    These are just wonderful! Lovely collection.

  • BootyHeartJewelry

    BootyHeartJewelry said 8 years ago

    Love how you've made an everyday, almost 'thoughtless' item not only interesting but a focal point. As they say, variety is the spice of life and you surely are spicing it up!

  • RetroRevivalBoutique

    RetroRevivalBoutique said 8 years ago

    Such a fabulous collection! I'm rather fond of vintage eyewear myself, as you can in my avi,lol! :3

  • EcoStone

    EcoStone said 8 years ago

    great collection!

  • sonyarasi

    sonyarasi said 8 years ago

    My first pair of glasses was a vintage white cat's eye with gemstones. I loved them.

  • jessjamesjake

    jessjamesjake said 8 years ago


  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 8 years ago

    I never say 'omg' ..but OMG I love this collection!

  • phuleffect

    phuleffect said 8 years ago

    Another lovely post by Kristal. Can't get enough of her blogging!

  • IvyVining

    IvyVining said 8 years ago

    Is it bad to wish my eyesight was worse just so I could wear all of those?

  • NoFrump

    NoFrump said 8 years ago

    oh my gosh, I love them!! <3

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign said 8 years ago


  • volkerwandering

    volkerwandering said 8 years ago

    What a unique collection. Thanks for sharing!

  • FelixandJayne

    FelixandJayne said 8 years ago

    I want them all!

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware said 8 years ago

    Great collection!

  • gilstrapdesigns

    gilstrapdesigns said 8 years ago

    These are all really cool. I have always loved cat eye shaped glasses. I think my mother still has my cat eye pink eye glasses from when I was in elementary school.

  • TheBloomingThread

    TheBloomingThread said 8 years ago

    i need a pair in sunglasses~

  • whatnomints

    whatnomints said 8 years ago

    This is great!!

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 8 years ago

    Oh how I wish I could pull off wearing glasses!

  • BeatificBijoux

    BeatificBijoux said 8 years ago

    My husband used to rock the lensless vintage glasses in high school, when we were dating and he sng in a band that played all the hippest basements and living rooms in Ann Arbor...thanks for bringing back good memories!

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 8 years ago

    I love vintage frames, but I find that they have to be almost unused to be in pristine condition as plastics don't look new for too long when it's used, and it's hard to polish so a very old frame can look new. Otherwise, a good vintage frame is always a treasured find.

  • Grafxquest

    Grafxquest said 8 years ago

    Love the frames! I found out that it is definitely cheaper going to get glasses made when you bring your own frames. Most of the time they are able to make your prescription fit into the frames you bring along. Bringing my own vintage pairs that I found throughout the years with me, made it a less expensive day and I have more pairs around the house to use! And for those of you who love the look, take them to walmart and have the lenses replaced with clear glass!

  • rivahside

    rivahside said 8 years ago

    This post makes me nostalgic for the turquoise cateye glasses with silver sparkles that my best friend wore in 2nd grade, circa 1966. I was so envious! Wonderful article!

  • kloudesigns

    kloudesigns said 8 years ago

    I had my grandmother's vintage frames made into glasses that I'm wearing right now!

  • hattieshouse

    hattieshouse said 8 years ago

    I just recently found Magpie Ethel on Etsy and adore her whimsical vintage art pieces! From one Oregonian to another, congrats on your success and I hope to meet you at Crafty Wonderland this Sat. in Portland!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 8 years ago

    Lovely eyeglasses!

  • dollmeat

    dollmeat said 8 years ago

    Vintage eyeglasses rule! I wear cateye shaped 50s style pair myself and I simply love them. This post made me want to buy another pair :)

  • ACupOfSparkle

    ACupOfSparkle said 8 years ago

    So awesome! If I start collecting something, I want to collect eyeglasses... and wear one every day :)

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio said 8 years ago

    Each one a piece of art. Love them!

  • prilbot

    prilbot said 8 years ago

    lovely jubbly!


    OKIFOLKI said 8 years ago

    Wonderful collection! :) I'm a big fan of cateye and upswept glasses and to see a collection like this brings a smile to my face. :) I think they look great on the shelves, or just on the wall.

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 8 years ago

    Looks like some great stuff to collect.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 8 years ago

    My cherry red cat eye glasses from the 50's was my first pair! Great blog!

  • bedouin

    bedouin said 8 years ago

    too cute! I still wear my old Malcom's for driving and distance.Thinking about it I better get to the eye doctor and maybe find a"new vintage" pair for prescription.

  • shabbyvintagemom

    shabbyvintagemom said 8 years ago

    Laurie~ You know I LOVE your collections!! The pink & aqua frames are awesome♥ So glad to see you featured :)

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart said 8 years ago

    I love the colored frames too. Very interesting collection!

  • jacklom3

    jacklom3 said 8 years ago

    I LOVE your collection!!! Thank you for sharing! :)

  • quirkyshop

    quirkyshop said 8 years ago

    Love it!!!!

  • sasodo

    sasodo said 8 years ago

    wow!!! what a collection!

  • Gelada

    Gelada said 8 years ago

    classic (:

  • MelaniesSugarShack

    MelaniesSugarShack said 8 years ago

    I love it!

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 8 years ago

    Love those vintage glasses! I have a few pairs myself. :)

  • JoiedeWeave

    JoiedeWeave said 8 years ago

    I am a very lucky gal to have Laurie one of my best friends! She really is amazing and has such a wonderful shop! But it is a mystery how she stores all these vintage finds...she just might be magical, too! If you don't follow her blog, you should! It is a very fun and happy place! Linda

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 8 years ago

    gorgeousness. it almost makes me want to go get my prescription updated.

  • artworksbycarol

    artworksbycarol said 8 years ago

    I had CAT eye glasses when I was very young, guess how old I am?

  • Fullofcraft

    Fullofcraft said 8 years ago

    YAY! Thanks for the feature!

  • leeandlatimer

    leeandlatimer said 8 years ago

    This is so fun! Makes me want to stop wearing contacts for a while! Thanks for including me!

  • traceydumont

    traceydumont said 8 years ago


  • munieca

    munieca said 8 years ago

    thanks Kristal!! what a wonderful collection!!

  • CarannLee

    CarannLee said 8 years ago

    Love the glasses! I have a few old pairs myself and I thank you for the suggestion of taking them and having my prescription put into them so I can wear them. Love it!!

  • PeppermintBark

    PeppermintBark said 8 years ago

    Yay! Awesome story about Laurie / Magpie Ethel and one of her many, many vintage collections. Her blog is filled with incredible things. Thanks RikRak!

  • MishaGirl

    MishaGirl said 8 years ago

    Adorable collection! I just love the look of vintage cat eye glasses :-)

  • alteredartichoke

    alteredartichoke said 8 years ago

    Beautiful collection! I need to see if my mom still has her collection of vintage eyeglasses.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    So cute! Love it!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 8 years ago

    Nice I love vintage glasses especially the pointed type ones, they remind me of cats eyes. classy!

  • mikiheather

    mikiheather said 8 years ago

    So pretty! Makes me want to be a 50s movie star!

  • Isette

    Isette said 8 years ago

    How fun! I've often thought about starting a vintage eyewear collection, but figured I wouldn't stop! So I content myself with pretty pictures on-line for the time being :)

  • LizardSkins

    LizardSkins said 8 years ago

    LOL i could've had my own collection all these years! I wonder if all my old glasses are in someone's hoard? very cool

  • Sorocco

    Sorocco said 8 years ago

    This is fabulous! Thank you for including me!:)

  • vinskord

    vinskord said 8 years ago

    What a cool collection!!

  • JanetsCreations77

    JanetsCreations77 said 8 years ago

    Laurie, you always make me laugh!

  • ButterworthandBee

    ButterworthandBee said 8 years ago

    ha! i also collect vintage glasses and sunglasses. i realized the other day most of them are vintage ski/snowsport glasses. i have a hard time figuring out how to display them also, so they all live in a vintage suitcase i call the graveyard. keep collecting! p.s. nice blog!

  • cmarely

    cmarely said 8 years ago

    love this collection!

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 8 years ago

    A full blown glassaholic here. I just came back from Milan, and bought 3 new pairs-all hand made....prescription.

  • alligatorpaper

    alligatorpaper said 8 years ago

    That's awesome. I always wished I needed glasses until I did. Then I found out I have to move my whole head instead of just my eyes to look around. That's annoying.

  • ToosDetectiveAgency

    ToosDetectiveAgency said 8 years ago

    This reminds me of a prof I had who bought drug store eyeglasses at yard sales. She said she was too poor to go to the eye doctor and get a real prescription, so she carried around a bag of funky glasses, She'd put a pair on to write on the board and say, "Oh, no. These are the glasses I wear to pet my cat."

  • RedFernVintage

    RedFernVintage said 8 years ago

    This is amazing! I love your collection. I've picked up many of pair- I'm just not sure how to list them. I wear glasses and it seems like such a hard thing to buy online....

  • FromTheHeath

    FromTheHeath said 8 years ago

    Sigh...If only my vision wasn't 20/20 ;)

  • SneakyPoodle

    SneakyPoodle said 8 years ago

    Very timely post as glasses are in the winter fashion forecast :) ~SneakyPoodle

  • Zalavintage

    Zalavintage said 8 years ago

    We collect sunglasses, probably have 100, my favorites are the huge 60's Gucci tortoiseshell that practically cover your face, who wore these? My daughter loves the original Jackie O brand, Cutler and Gross, solid black frames with the darkest lenses I've found.

  • SodaRenee

    SodaRenee said 8 years ago


  • TheGraveyardGirls

    TheGraveyardGirls said 8 years ago

    oh my goodness!! i want all of them!

  • congcongdesign

    congcongdesign said 8 years ago

    wow.good many special collections.^_^

  • kayratastaki

    kayratastaki said 8 years ago

    Such a fabulous collection.

  • loyalgong

    loyalgong said 8 years ago

    Lovely collection!i like it. christian louboutin clearance. -cheap christian louboutin.

  • LiddoKiddo

    LiddoKiddo said 8 years ago

    I LOVE glasses and these are OMG Terrific!!!

  • NaturesArtMelbourne

    NaturesArtMelbourne said 8 years ago

    wow love them allllllll.

  • AKingsThings

    AKingsThings said 8 years ago

    Been there...done that! Thanks for spreading the word. It's all about reuse, restore, recycle. ...And it's thrifty as well.

  • DayDreamNightScheme

    DayDreamNightScheme said 8 years ago

    Love them all!

  • PurposedDesigns

    PurposedDesigns said 8 years ago

    Nice collection. I was acctually hoping you could help me with a pair i found. I dont know anything about eyeglasses. How can i send you some pics and more info about them? Thanks!

  • susanstreasures

    Susan Kendrick from susanstreasures said 8 years ago

    I have a pair that belonged to my father. I think he wore them at work. They are rimless and possibly gold filled. Wondering if a collector would be interested in purchasing them.

  • johnlouisus

    John Louis said 4 years ago

    Amazing!!! Nice Collection!!! I love to wear eyeglasses mostly Vintage one and moreover Eyeglasses frames matters the most because with this one can decide whether the pair of glasses is comfortable or not. I mostly concentrate about over the frame that should be comfortable and suits a lot on your face. You can protect your eyes as well as looks attractive and dashing. It is really very versatile and comfortable and moreover you will able to accessorize any style by online. Thank You

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