Opera Glasses

The objective lenses are 16 mm diameter. The frame is aluminum. The barrels are covered with mother of pearl, as is the lorgnette handle and the central focusing knob. The letters “RT” appear in a diamond shape on the mid crossbar. The words “MADE IN FRANCE” appear on the inner crossbar. The case is simulated reptile skin.
If these glasses were intended for the British market, the “MADE IN FRANCE” designation indicates that they were made after Parliament passed the British Merchandise Marks Act of 1887. If they were intended for the American market, the designation indicates they were made after the McKinley Tariff went into effect on March 1, 1891. One provision of the McKinley Tariff stated that “all articles of foreign manufacture” shall “be plainly marked, stamped, branded, or labeled in legible English words, so as to indicate the country of their origin; and unless so marked, stamped, branded, or labeled, they shall not be admitted to entry.” In the words of a somewhat disingenuous Treasury Department Circular, this provision would protect Americans “from the imposition of inferior goods.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
opera glasses
date made
early 20th century
overall: 1 3/16 in; 3.048 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Jane and Mary Henle

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