I am completely in love with my early American frame from RetroSpecs & Co. circa 1925. It is the perfect addition to my collection. This vintage eyewear piece is exceptionally rare. It’s called the Octagon Filigree Saddle and was most likely made by jewelers commissioned by a wealthy and well known family. Families like the Carnegies and Rockefellers employed these artisans. Perhaps mine is from such a family.
RetroSpecs & Co. located this piece, and then carefully and lovingly restored it in their California studio. The frame has a solid gold bridge with 1/10 12K gold-filled temples. It is one of two ever made, and each are different in size and filigree design.
When I slid it on at a recent trunk show that we hosted with our fantastic rep, Adam, I just knew it was meant for me. Saddle bridges either fit or they don’t, which is why throughout the 20th century, frame-makers gravitated toward nose pads for mounting. The nose pad expanded a frame’s potential audience, while saddle bridges were customized for individual customers. The nose pad had not been invented when this particular frame was created nearly 100 years ago, and it is still a perfect fit for me.
The filigree on my piece was hand-etched by a jeweler and influenced by art movements coming to North America from Europe. Vintage eyewear like this showcase some of the first examples of these artistic styles ever instilled into jewelry in the United States. On my piece, there is Greek key filigree across both the saddle bridge and the entire hexagon of the eye wire. In ancient Greece, this meandering key design was thought to symbolize infinity and unity.
The Greek key motif is also thought to be significantly older than ancient Greece. Some believe it stemmed from ancient Egypt. When King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in 1922, this repetitive motif was found amongst the relics. Subsequently, it was highly influential in the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in 1925. This is where the term “Art Deco” was derived. This is the story I lean into when I imagine the jewelers’ influence for my piece.
How Vintage Eyewear by RetroSpecs & Co. Took Me Back to Childhood Wonders
I also find this connection fascinating because I had the privilege of seeing many artifacts from Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1977 with my family. When I was 8 or 9 years old, we drove six hours down to New Orleans, stayed on Canal Street and saw this breathtaking exhibit.
King Tut’s mask blew me away. I was enthralled as I stared at the gold and lapis inlay. I marveled at the sarcophagi, the jewelry, the mummies and burial utensils. That trip was a catalyst for my journey of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art history. The idea that I was literally staring at beautiful pieces of handcrafted history was profound and otherworldly at age 9, and still is today. I am often moved to tears by the power of art.
RetroSpecs & Co. considers itself the Sotheby’s/Christie’s of historic gold-filled eyewear of the early modern era. They passionately document all designs and have an archive of more than 7,000 unique models to-date. They are collectors, historians and restorative craftsmen who believe that the story of vintage eyewear has an important place in culture and art. RetroSpecs believes that individual craftsmanship should be celebrated and elevated, and I couldn’t agree more.
This museum piece connects me to the stories of all who came before me. It reminds me of the power of art, design and beauty in our everyday life. It grounds me in Eclectic Eye’s promise, which states that we are here to provide a tailored experience, curated eyewear, artful craftsmanship and unparalleled care. That’s our goal every day. My Octagon Filigree Saddle frame epitomizes and embodies these values with exceptional design and creativity.
See what else Robbie has in her eyewear wardrobe alongside this vintage eyewear piece.