If you are looking for something that isn’t highly collectible enough that everyone is hoarding them, but lures with great potential for future buyers willing to pay a pretty penny for them, then you should consider collecting eyeglasses. The days of things like comic books, movie posters and little glass unicorns being enough to pay for your grandchildren’s schooling are over. The secret is out and now everybody and their next door neighbor’s cousin’s first grade school teacher’s ex-boyfriend is collecting and hoarding McDonald’s Kids Meal toys on the hope that such massively produced crap will one day be worth more than it ever possibly should.
On the other hand, eyeglasses are still regularly tossed in the garbage when they break or, worse, go out of style. Even those old, unstylish eyeglasses that you donate at the Wal-Mart vision center or other places are eventually going to likely wind up in the trash bin. Which is news that could not be better for anyone who has already started collecting eyeglasses.
It is those eyeglasses that went out of style that you really want to focus on. The best kinds of eyeglasses for collectability are those that are avant-garde or totally off the wall. The 1960s and the 1980s were the high point for eyeglasses that pressed up against the envelope and blew the roof off and kicked out the jams. The cat’s eyes glasses made memorable by Julie Newmar as Catwoman on the old Batman and Robin show are a good place to start. Heck, if you could actually get your hands on an authentic pair of glasses worn by Julie Newmar–the only real Catwoman that ever has or ever will exist–you might well be able to pay for your grandchildren’s schooling.
Failing the ability to get your hands on a pair of Julie Newmar cat’s eyes glasses, take a look for the Eskimo style of glasses that were also popular among some in the 60s who needed to see less than they needed to be seen. Eskimo style glasses are essentially black glasses with a very small slit through which you can see. This style is called Eskimo style because–wait for it–the Eskimos essentially created the idea of sunglasses with these glasses also called, for obvious reasons, shutter shades. The Inuits are credited with inventing sunglasses and why not: they have days that last over 20 hours. The really big question is when Eskimo style sunglasses are going to start being called Inuit sunglasses. Perhaps right around the time you start making big money off your collection.
The crazier the glasses, the more likely you are to make money off them. In her book “Collectible Price Guide 2009,” author Judith Miller stake out a claim that glasses where almost the entire frame are stylized to resemble guns sell for up to 200 bucks. Right next to that are some pig-shaped glass frames that Miller claims will sell for 200 bucks as well.
You could also go the route of collecting glasses based on name brand value. Victor Gros, Nina Ricci and Alain Mikli are all names that you might want to look for when taking the path of least creativity. To really get the big bucks down the road, however, you should buy your collectible glasses based on sheer weirdness. Think of glasses the size of Harry Carey or Pop Art glasses or nifty ska glasses with a black and white checkerboard design. The more offbeat and unusual the design of the glasses, the better.
Again according to Judith Miller, the elemental factors to consider when collecting eyeglasses are the style, the condition (of course), and then the name of the designer. The glasses made during the 50s and 60s are very popular because they were very stylish. Cat’s eyes are very popular to collect and are easy enough to start with because they were so popular in the 60s. If you really want to be ahead of the game, start wearing cat’s eyes glasses now because they are really in big bad need of a comeback.
The most valuable are those that at least seem to be totally unique and one-of-a-kind. Look for things like zig-zagging frames and bizarre stylistic flourishes like those slitty Eskimo glasses. Remember when Pee Wee Herman came out and sang “Turning Japanese” and he was wearing Eskimo glasses. If you could get THOSE glasses, they might even be worth more than Julie Newmar’s cat’s eyes Catwoman glasses.