My Path of Restoring Vintage Steampunk Glasses with Side-Shields

Steam-Punk Glasses

If you have read my previous post “When I fell in Love with Side-Shields on Sunglasses” then you know my love affair with side shields started many years ago and was rekindled by a character  wearing a pair of D-lens glasses on a recent television series. The first glasses I found were on Ebay from a seller in Ukraine.  The were called WWII Russian Motorcycle glasses and I got them for about $135 plus $50 shipping to the United States.  They are awesome, but so very heavy that after a short time you must take them off.  The mark they leave on your nose is amazing.  While I loved them they weren’t what I was looking for so I started hunting.

When I wore WWII glasses everyone commented on how ‘Steampunk’ they looked, so that is where I started.  I searched ebay for ‘Steampunk Glasses’ it was too broad a term as it showed me modern glasses that were being built with extra lenses and leather and such.  It was not what I was looking for; I adjusted my search to ‘Vintage Steampunk Glasses’ and got a much better return and then I added ‘Side-Shields’ and the whole door opened.  ‘Vintage Steampunk Glasses with Side-Shields’

I was made aware of a beautiful class of glasses from early in the last century.  These were the safety glasses of their day with names like Saniglass, Willson, CESCO, Welsh and of course American Optical.  I learned everything I could about them and thought I would like to restore a pair and make them sunglasses….

How the Hell was I Going to Restore Vintage Glasses?

First things first I had to bid on Ebay…. I would bid but lost every auction, this was going to be more expensive than I thought.  After several auctions I came across a pair of American Opticals with side shields that I had to have I just kept bidding and won them for $80.   I received the glasses they were metal with mesh side-shields and clear glass.  The next thing I had to do was figure out how to get lenses into them.  I first went to my local opticians to see if they would place lenses in them….’Why would you want that?” was what the lady asked and then said no.  I was going to have to do this myself.  I new what I had to do.

    1. Get some Oakley lenses on Ebay
  1. Use a Dremmel

Lens GrinderYeah, it didn’t work out too well for me.  First the lenses I got were too small and I couldn’t send them back.  The next lenses worked for sizing, but let me tell you that a Dremmel is not great for grinding lenses when you need a steady hand.

I had to do some research to figure out how was I going to craft lenses to these glasses. I found that I was going to need a lens grinder, but where do you find one?  Well the largest E-commerce website on the planet of course.  Amazon?  Nope.  Alibaba.  It is a site that puts manufacturers in touch with sellers for the most part. Since I was just some guy that wanted one item I didn’t think anyone would sell to me, I was wrong.  I found the HLE-730 lens grinder and I was off to the races.

There was a learning curve, but after destroying several pair of frames I finally ended up with a set of American Optical’s with Oakley Lenses.  Starting off I was buying expensive lenses on Ebay that were replacements for Oakley, Vuarnet and RayBan.

People Wanted Them

I got the hang of restoring the frames and grinding the lenses and I ended up with fantastic glasses.  I was stopped on the street several times a day and asked where I got the shades.  It dawned on me that others might like to purchase the glasses that I restored, O’Riginals Trading Co. was born.  I knew to scale up I needed lenses so I hit Alibaba again and ordered 100 pair of green glass and 100 pair of amber glass.  I sold the glasses from $180-$230.  And that was the beginning.