Historical information

A lorgnette, in essence, consists of a handle-mounted pair of spectacles. Lorgnettes, which preceded modern opera binoculars, were frequently seen at both theaters and operas during the 19th century. The term "lorgnette" is derived from the French word "lorgner," which means to discreetly observe or gaze. Prior to the 17th century, optical devices were mainly associated with men, however the creation of the lorgnette marked a significant shift as women started to play a more prominent role in the realm of eyewear. The lorgnette piqued women's curiosity and led to the development of various new designs, such as the "jealousy lorgnette." Furthermore, the lorgnette evolved beyond its initial function as a theater or opera accessory and transformed into a practical daily accessory.

Initial versions of the lorgnette featured a handle without any joints. Subsequent iterations introduced a hinged handle, and by the 19th century, a spring mechanism was incorporated which enabled the lenses to fold neatly inside the handle, which also doubled as a protective case.


The Burke Museum's collection of historical artifacts illuminates Beechworth's past by showcasing the town's social, cultural, and economic dimensions, contributing to a richer understanding of its social history.

Physical description

A pair of spectacles with a decorative handle attached.