My Path of Restoring Vintage Steampunk Glasses with Side-Shields
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.
- Get some Oakley lenses on Ebay
- Use a Dremmel
Yeah, 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.