As her eyesight weakened, Martha Washington utilized two pairs of spectacles on a daily basis, a weaker pair for supervising domestic routines and a stronger pair for reading and sewing. Tortoiseshell frames, imported from England, were increasingly popular after 1800. Mrs. Washington may have relied on this fashionable pair to aide her work during her final years at Mount Vernon.


Fragment of spectacles; tortoiseshell frame, oval lenses, arched C-bridge, and turnpin sides; upper half of right eye frame is missing as is the temple bar on that side; right lens is separate from the frame.





Tortoiseshell, glass


Overall: 1 5/8 in. x 4 5/8 in. (4.14 cm x 11.76 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1956

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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