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Past Treasures

"Such a library as ours would not only contain books and current periodicals,
but there would be...articles of historic, scientific, and artistic interest."

~ Frank C. Patten, Head Librarian of Rosenberg Library, 1904 - 1934

The Library accepted its first museum piece shortly after it opened in 1904. Since then, thousands of rare and interesting objects from around the world have been added to the collection. Displayed in these pages are the Library's "Treasures of the Month."

July 2017 "Treasure of the Month"
Antique Eyeglasses
A pair of antique pince nez from the Galveston Optical Company.

A pair of antique pince nez from the Galveston Optical Company.

This month Rosenberg Library will exhibit an assortment of antique eyeglasses from its permanent collection. The glasses — which range in date from the early 1800s to the 1940s — were gifts of the following donors: Rose Smith, Mrs. A.W. Dunham, Ethel B. Buckley, Mrs. W.B. Cook, Mrs. Edward R. Thompson, Lise Darst, and the Morgan Family.

Eyeglasses are believed to have originated in Italy during the late 13th century. Early glasses were essentially two magnifying glasses riveted together with an attached handle to hold in front of the eyes.

Frame styles which included sides held in place behind the ears emerged in the early 1700s and are still the most prevalent type used today. During the 19th century, a frameless style known as pince nez was popular. French for “pinch nose” pince nez glasses were held in place by fitting snugly on the bridge of the wearer’s nose.

Prior to the 1940s, eyeglasses were considered more of a burden than a fashion statement. Glasses were often associated with physical frailty or old age. However, developments in the manufacture of plastics greatly influenced the eyewear industry. The use of plastic frames allowed for endless shape and color options. As a result, glasses evolved from a medical device into a style accessory. Today, many top fashion designers produce their own eyewear lines.


The Treasure of the Month is located on the Library’s historic 2nd Floor near the East Entrance. It can be viewed during regular library hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Saturday. For more information, please contact the Museum Office at (409) 763 - 8854 ext. 125.

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