What are Quizzing Glasses?

The quizzing glass pendant, is a portable magnifying glass piece, usually made from a bevelled magnifying glass piece set into ornate metal work. The magnifier existed since the 12th century but it wasn’t until the mid 18th century that they were carried around the neck, on a gold chain or ribbon. These glass pieces ended in a comfortable handle or loop that would also later serve as a bale. Quizzing glasses were portable accessories, and when they came to fashion in the Regency and Victorian eras, they were also worn as pendants and as a prized piece of jewelry signifying status and wealth. The ones featured in Kirsten’s corner date to the Georgian era, and have some impeccable gold work that exhibit superior craftsmanship.

Quizzing glasses are different from the antique lorgnette, the portable two-lens prescription glasses worn around the neck in the 18th century, or the monocle, the fashionable single lens devise. They are quite inventive, and as is expected of the Regency era of King George, they were worn as displays of prestige and sophistication. The quizzing glasses were often associated with the dandy, or aristocrat, who wished to flaunt his or her jewels and fashionable style. Quizzing glasses could be jeweled, have secret lockets or serve as vinaigrettes that could hold a special scent. They became elaborate with symbols, and coded language, decorated with snakes such as the one features in our store, gemstones, gold-work, or personal monograms.

The name of “quizzing glass” is said to come from the look of a person (perhaps notably the dandy) peering through this one lens magnifier, and the self-conscious mannerisms that were associated with the act of “looking”. Alas, in this era, both men and women were the subject of each other’s gaze, hence the quizzing glasses, an elegant and ubiquitous, unisex accessory, useful and delightful even to this day!


Quizzing Glasses on Kirsten's Corner


Navigate to our selection of Quizzing Glass or click above image to learn more.