Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(1,657 words)

1. Earliest forms

Since around 1200, people would lay hemispheres of glass or gemstone (rock crystal, beryl) directly on a text to magnify it. As early as the 13th century, these reading stones developed into magnifying glasses, convex lenses with a handle held up before a reader’s eye. Despite durable legends and historical falsifications, the date of the invention of spectacles and the identity of the inventor are still unknown. At the end of the…

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Reith, Reinhold, “Spectacles”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 29 September 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_017784>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180208

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