Who Invented Aviator Sunglasses?

There are claims bouncing around the interwebs that certain companies invented aviator style sunglasses. Then again there are claims bouncing around the interwebs about who invented the interwebs. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this.

So (as Gary Gilmore once said) let’s do it.

Since the birth and development of aviator sunglasses is an epic story, this will be a multi-post series.

After spending much time collecting many pieces, with special focus on 19th Century safety and special purpose eyewear, I believe this to be the ancestor of all modern aviator sunglasses, what Adam and/or Lucy are to humanity: a sort of ur-aviator if you will:

very vintage aviator sunglasses

Catalogue image of ur-aviator sunglasses, circa 1896.

Here’s another drawing from a contemporary advertisement:

Very Vintage Pre-Aviator Sunglasses. Vintage Eyewear!

Very Vintage Ur-Aviator Sunglasses. Advertisement Circa 1896.


Note that it’s recommended by oculists. Further note that it’s got lenses made of mica (!).

And finally an actual example, with case, from my own collection:

Pre-Aviator Sunglasses with Original Case - circa 1895

Pre-Aviator Sunglasses with Original Case, circa 1895 – Photo by Moss Lipow

Were Victorian bicyclists really going so fast that this was necessary, or was the inventor a futurist who foresaw the proliferation of faster and faster motorcars and manned flight?

I don’t know but pay close attention to the hinge in the middle. We will see it again as we continue our voyage.

Click below for:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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1 Response

  1. Charles Zuber says:

    Finally a blog that I will actually read!

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