Eyeglass Nose Bridge Types Through the Years

Throughout the years, there have been several notable nose bridges for glasses – and a few that are even more distinctive. You can discover numerous bridges on the different designs of classic eyeglasses. The design of the nose bridge has evolved alongside changes in both form and function over the previous centuries. It can also serve as a defining characteristic of the overall frame aesthetic. However, the type of nose bridge you select is crucial for the comfort and functionality of your glasses.

The portion of your nose that connects to the bridge of your nasal is also called the bridge. The name “bridge” suggests that it connects the frames of glasses to both lenses. A pair of glasses consists of the bridge, the temples, the rims (unless they are rimless), and the lenses.

Take note of how the bridge protrudes outward from the lenses and inspect your spectacles from a higher vantage point. By wearing the glasses securely on your face, you can observe the raised area where the bridge meets the space atop your nose, known as the nasal bridge. The nasal bridge possesses two measurements.

When purchasing glasses, it is crucial to consider the dimensions, and one of the most important measurements to look at is the bridge measurement. The bridge measurement refers to the space between the lenses, which corresponds to the width of your nose.

The features of these glasses are often present on every pair, but specific changes in the nose bridge styles occurred when new manufacturing techniques or materials became available, allowing optical companies and opticians to create bridges.

  • Easier to Wear.
  • Tailored to the wearer.
  • More Stable.
  • Cost-effective to manufacture.
  • Quicker to Create.
  • If you are picking out a pair of vintage glasses to wear as your daily accessory, an accessory or piece that can help bridge the understanding of what kind of process can make it easier. Depending on whether you want a particular vintage look or prioritize comfort and stability, you can narrow down frame styles.

    Plastic Frames in the 1950s and Nose Bridge Styles

    In the 1950s, the dominant style of glasses was wire rim frames, regardless of the shape of the frames, such as cat eye glasses or Browline glasses. This popular style relied on the use of plastic frames and featured a saddle bridge and nose pads on all wire rim glasses.

    The frames of a single piece of plastic were also molds. They were much lighter, meaning that they needed to be distributed over the nose bridge. Early plastics already offered several advantages over steel or nickel frames, but they were fragile. Vintage plastic frames were made of cellulose acetate.

    Cellulose acetate glasses with a saddle bridge and plastic nose pads

    In the 1950s, two different types of vintage glasses with a popular bridge on the nose were made, shaping the contemporary fashions with their flexibility. However, the style of the nose bridge was similar to the ones used decades earlier in glasses with rimmed horn frames. Opticians used tortoiseshell or horn as a replacement for these plastic frames.

  • The bridge saddle pads provide a customized fit that can distribute weight more evenly, making it more comfortable. In the 1950s, glasses quickly became popular for their ease of wearing and low maintenance, since there were no moving parts and the plastic bridge was considered “regular” on all glasses. The English has been inverted without any explanation, and the structure of the sentences in the input is the reverse.
  • The keyhole bridge design of these glasses distributes the weight of the frame on the lower part of the nose, which tends to sit lower on noses with more space. Instead of resting directly on the top of the nose, the bridge above the nose goes on the arch, creating small nose pads that shape like a saddle bridge. This shape conforms to the wearer’s nose shape.
  • Vintage cat eye glasses with a keyhole bridge

    The slippery plastic could be more prone to sliding down the wearer’s nose. The bridge’s fit allows for some adjustment, so it can be made to fit comfortably. Unlike plastic, which is not malleable like nickel or gold, the bridge is made of a more flexible material. There were two limitations to the plastic nose bridges.

    When purchasing vintage plastic frames, it is important to make sure you get glasses that comfortably and securely fit your face. Fortunately, today’s measurements have changed, so it is still possible to find a pair of retro frames that fit well. Compared to the 1800s, when they were small, the average face measurements have increased. However, it is important to consider the limitations of these vintage frames and ensure that you have the correct measurements for the bridge of your nose.

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    Nose Bridges in the Civil War Era

    During the mid-1800s and the American Civil War, glasses for vision correction were primarily worn for the sole purpose of addressing the needs related to frame styles and bridges. A wide range of successful designs from previous years were predominantly available as options for individuals in need of glasses.

    This is part of the reason why antique glasses are small in size, to help minimize the weight and keep them in place. The early bridges, such as the X-bridge, bridge crank, and C-bridge, were added to provide additional support so that the glasses could endure all the activities later on. During the Civil War, the temples of the glasses, which were mainly kept in place by squeezing them on the face, either slid or remained straight.

    The scroll bridge during the late 1850s, which streamlined the production of eyeglasses, stood out as a notable innovation in nose bridges for vintage frames at that period.

    A robust linkage was established by affixing the scroll bridge horizontally to the rims, featuring flanges that gracefully angled upwards at the extremities. Beforehand, the optician would weld nose bridges perpendicular to the rims, a delicate task that resulted in a frail connection.

    Vintage glasses became more readily available and affordable on the market. This allowed the general public to have easier access to a larger variety of glasses. Additionally, opticians were able to produce a higher quantity of glasses without compromising on quality.

    Nose Bridges in the 1960s, 70s, and Beyond

    For the most part, these styles of bridge remained unchanged over the next few decades. However, in the earlier part of the century, the frames for glasses continued to offer the same type of bridge for the nose, but the shapes of the frames changed and the materials used improved, resulting in increased durability and quality for both modern and vintage glasses.

    Many manufacturers have added additional features to improve and enhance the fit of their glasses, and a few exceptions to this are certain novelty frames. Almost every pair of frames had either a keyhole bridge or a saddle bridge made of plastic. Wire frame glasses primarily used an adjustable nose pad or a saddle bridge.

    The bridge choices on retro eyewear from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s included:

  • The Double Aviator Bridge, which first debuted in the 1930s when American Optical and Lomb & Bausch designed them, combined a saddle bridge with plastic nose pads between the lenses, creating a double bridge that connected the top of the lenses with a wire rod and provided more resistance to vintage aviator glasses. This style remained popular in the 1970s and 80s, and today, retro style has made them in-demand.
  • Many optical companies today make glasses that fit people with a low nose bridge, as different face shapes require different nose bridges. Having a low nose bridge can make it difficult to keep regular glasses from sliding down your face, so glasses with larger nose pads and a tilt lens provide significant benefits. Many people with a low bridge nose or pupils below their bridge find it challenging to find glasses that fit flush, but today there are many optical companies that cater to their needs.
  • They are usually made of silicone or acetate. If the bridge of your face is too big, they can also improve the fit. This distributes weight over a greater area than just two nose pads, making it a more comfortable way than a simple wire bridge. In addition, a bridge pad usually connects to the bridge at every point, offering padding. It usually covers the entire bridge, in addition to an existing pair of glasses – Bridge Pad.
  • Some glasses made today will swap out the plastic nose pads with silicone nose pads, creating a more comfortable bridge on the plastic glasses, while you may not find authentic vintage glasses with this newer innovation in classic retro styles. Silicone nose pads, made of a slightly soft and cushiony material, are non-slip and provide a comfortable fit.
  • Other options are available for bridges, either as add-ons to an existing pair of glasses or as standard, that generally serve the purpose of securely holding the glasses in place and providing the wearer with the knowledge that the bridge will fit the nose properly. These bridges aim to hold the glasses more comfortably and securely in place.

    Movement Toward Modern Bridges with the Saddle Bridge

    Historians have differing opinions on the exact time when opticians initially began utilizing the saddle bridge. While some argue that it was already in use during the Civil War, evidence from illustrations, advertisements, patents, and existing glasses suggests that saddle bridge glasses emerged in the 1870s or 1880s.

    If you were to look at a pair of glasses frames from the point of attachment of the lenses on a wire frame, the shape of the bridge, also called the W-bridge or saddle bridge, makes the nose arch and sharply turn before facing towards the back angles.

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    Windsor glasses with a saddle bridge

    This design provided a more secure and snug fit compared to previous bridge styles, enabling the production of glasses with bigger lenses that sat slightly further from the face, resembling present-day designs.

    The antique pair of Windsor spectacles had circular frames made of metal, with temples that were usually attached at the midpoint of the curved lens and extended over the ears. The main vintage frame style of the Windsor glasses was to use saddle nose bridges.

    The popularity of glasses like the Windsor bridge and saddle style remained until the 1920s and came into style in the 1880s. Decades later, celebrities like John Lennon brought them back into fashion.

    Optical companies continued to use the popular saddle bridge on vintage metal frame glasses, as well as other styles, for the bridge on the nose when choosing a bridge, even in the later half of the 1900s.

    Spring Nose Bridges for the Pince-Nez

    The bridge of the nose, which is a crucial part of the spectacles, was a key component in ensuring that the spectacles stayed on the wearer’s face.

    To create enough tension, gently place the pince-nez on the nose and let the spring release, pulling the lenses apart. The wearer can adjust the lenses by pulling them apart, as the spring compresses slightly to avoid pinching.

    During the time period from 1820 to 1900, several different styles of bridge pince-nez grew in popularity, reaching their height of popularity between 1880 and 1900.

  • Spring Bridge Pince-Nez – This pince-nez experienced the longest lasting popularity. First used in the 1820s, the bridge on this pince-nez is shaped like a C, accounting for the alternative name “C-bridge pince-nez.” The

    This delicate style bridge, with its spring rimmed gold nez pince bridge, enables almost any person to fit it as it has the ability to correct vision and provide extensive use. Additionally, it limits the breaking prone and offers flexibility in the spring.

  • The Astig Pince-Nez, also known as the “spring bar” bridge, is eyewear that has the ability to correct astigmatism, unlike other bridge styles, as it kept the lenses fixed using a rotating bar.
  • The design of the hard bridge pince-nez spectacles was marketed under the brand name “Fits-U”. You may also hear this design called the “nez pince”. This style took several years to gain popularity after its invention in 1893. The glasses had levers that could be extended to pinch the wearer’s nose, compressing the springs in the two nose pieces. The bridge on this eyepiece is rigid – it is a hard bridge pince-nez.
  • Pince-nez and Oxford spectacles share some similarities, but whether Oxford spectacles can be considered pince-nez depends on the individual’s perspective. Vintage Oxfords possess nose pads and a distinct flexible bridge, incorporating characteristics from both the astig and C-bridge pince-nez styles.
  • The pince-nez bridge offered several benefits. It was advantageous to have lenses of any compatible shape and size, and the rimless design allowed for an additional advantage. The pince-nez was extremely adjustable to fit any nose size, and the wearer could quickly take them on and put them on.

    It was impossible to measure the distance between the pupils, as the eyewear sat on the wearer’s nose at a fixed distance. The bridge of the glasses, which also had temples, was not as functional as traditional glasses. However, it was still effective when kept in place with a pince-nez.

    In the 1900s, the pince-nez eventually fell out of style and gained a reputation for being outdated. By the 1930s, it had become an accessory primarily for older adults before going out of fashion altogether.

    The “Marshwood” Style Reinvents the Nose Bridge

    The early nose bridges did not have nose pads, which was their main feature. The placement of glasses on the face was solely responsible for the bridge sitting directly on the nose, almost universally. This was often required for antique spectacles with small lenses, giving them a distinct look whether they were worn very close to the face or at the tip of the nose.

    The nose pads and the bridge of the pince-nez often provided cushioning made of cork, making them appear as part of the bridge when worn.

    Wire rim spectacles with nose pads on the bridge

    The early nose pads of eyeglasses, known as Marshwood frames P3, were made of mother of pearl or bakelite. These vintage Marshwood style glasses, introduced in 1921, had thin wires attached to the rims just below the bridge, enabling the wearer to adjust them for a perfect fit. The invention of nose pads revolutionized the comfort and fit of antique spectacles, transforming traditional glasses.

    Shuron utilized a vintage Art Craft style to brand their “Ful-Vue” American Optical glasses, incorporating a saddle bridge. While the C-bridge of the old glasses had a similar shape, the top of the outward curved bridge at a right angle was adjustable.

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    The popularity of rimless glasses has also led to the increased use of adjustable nose bridges. Before the 1920s, rimless glasses used a curved bridge that held the lenses flush with the brow line. These glasses were quickly called “piece 3” glasses because they had 3 parts – 1 bridge and 2 temples. Opticians quickly added nose pads to these glasses. These glasses became a leading style in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

    While searching for eyeglasses, you may come across small variations based on the brand. These glasses often utilize a metal saddle bridge in conjunction with adjustable nose bridges, similar to their vintage rimless counterparts.

    The nose pads were there simply to help stabilize them, resting on the bridge of the nose. During the 1920s, another style of glasses, precursor to plastic glasses, used a simple carved bridge saddle made of shell or horn.

    Despite maintaining the general form, this alteration impacted the measurements of the bridge as it now curved over a narrower section of the nose. In the latter part of the 1920s, the bridge and temples elevated and connected close to the upper edge of the lenses. In earlier spectacles, the bridge was positioned halfway through the lenses, but another significant modification in the nose bridge during the 1920s was its placement in relation to the lenses.

    The First Nose Bridges on Antique Glasses

    The use of steel and gold-like metals became common in the 1800s for slightly altered bridge noses. Similarly, the bride’s nose held the plain, unadorned lenses together. In the early 1800s and 1700s, glasses were made of heavy metals like steel, silver, and iron in simple, oval-shaped spectacles.

    Advertisement from 1832 for C-bridge spectacles
  • The dominant trend until approximately 1835 was the C-bridge. It offered minimal stability, but it seamlessly accommodated any facial shape. The C-bridge is a straightforward upward curve that joins both lenses, making it the most basic and widely favored bridge design, C-Bridge.
  • The bridge, designed to snugly conform to the contours of the nose, resulted in a striking arch that extended outward from the rim at a gentle upward angle, resembling a wave-like shape. This particular style, known as the crank bridge or English Bridge, gained popularity during the 1830s and beyond.
  • It can be somewhat challenging to find antique glasses today, especially frames that are internationally-made and inexpensive. Although this style was never popular, it was often used. Despite its visually interesting appearance, the wide bridge was not very secure. The X-bridge had a similar shape to a cross, with a curved piece that went up from the bottom and a curved piece that went down from the top of the rims.

  • When you do, a fascinating one but as vintage eyewear for women, these are also a scarce discovery. Spectacles for women were a favored fashion, which were referred to as “Invisibles” or “Coquilles,” that carried this design were frequently used. A shape resembling the letter K, resulting in a graceful curve in the upper section of the bridge, the K-bridge had a lesser resemblance to the X-bridge, akin to the K-Bridge.
  • Gold wire rim glasses with an English bridge (Eyeglasses and case, Auckland Museum, licensed under CC BY 4.0)

    Many of these names are contemporary, utilized by collectors and historians to depict nose bridge variations from previous years.

    Antique spectacles with an X-bridge (Photo licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0, Paul Maeyaert 29 Jan 2015)

    In the 1800s, spectacles in antique frames and bridges were made individually by opticians, resulting in significant variations in their designs.

    If you are purchasing antique wire rim glasses, you will want to pay careful attention to the measurements of the bridge. This is because there was no standard sizing for antique glasses, so years later, there may be no comfort in wearing them if the bridge is too small or pinches your nose. Additionally, keep in mind that the average face width was smaller at that time, so the antique glasses may be too small to wear comfortably.

    How to Choose the Right Nose Bridge Type for Your Glasses

    Nose cushions will typically be available for metal frames, especially those made after 1930. When searching for vintage eyewear, aviators with double bridge, keyhole bridge, saddle bridge, or C-bridge designs will comprise the majority of options.

    If you want a more unique bridge, you will likely need to search for it specifically as these tend to be rarer.

    With a handful of chosen bridges, the different designs were created as spectacles became just as fashionable as they were practical. During the 1920s, 30s, and subsequent years, as the production of glasses shifted from small optical stores to large corporations, the choice of bridge would typically rely on the style of the frame.

    When measuring for glasses, make sure to measure your nose bridge as both the keyhole bridge and the saddle bridge can be used for plastic frames. When wearing regular glasses, you can still have a stable fit by pairing them with cable temples, and the metal saddle bridge gives a more retro look. There are many options available for nose pads, allowing you to adjust them slightly for the best fit and comfort, which many people find beneficial.

    If you will be wearing vintage glasses that have a different nose shape than your contemporary frames, another way to see what feels most comfortable is to try several different styles. In fact, measuring is the number one way to choose the right nose bridge, after catering to your personal tastes.

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